Cantwell is apparent winner in Senate race; recount pending

Herald news services and staff

OLYMPIA – Democratic challenger Maria Cantwell scored an apparent victory in the country’s last unsettled U.S. Senate contest today, but the race was still headed for an automatic recount.

A Cantwell victory would give the state two women senators for the first time in its history and two Democrats for the first time since the glory days of “Scoop” Jackson and Warren G. “Maggie” Magnuson in the 1970s.

And it would create a rare 50-50 tie in the Senate – at least until the all-tied-up presidential race is decided.

Cantwell, 42, had a lead of 2,104 votes with more than 2.4 million ballots counted and about 3,000 left to count. About 11,000 new ballots had been counted this afternoon, padding her slim lead by about 750.

Cantwell had 1,197,442 votes or 48.73 percent, to Gorton’s 1,194,901 votes or 48.63 percent. Libertarian Jeff Jared had 64,563 or 2.62 percent.

Cantwell pulled into the lead for the first time on Tuesday, primarily due to returns from her bastion, King County, which includes heavily Democratic Seattle.

“We’re feeling confident of victory,” said Cantwell spokesman Ellis Conklin. “We have a sense of euphoria – exhaustion and euphoria blended together.”

Gorton wasn’t conceding, but spokeswoman Cynthia Bergman said: “We’re losing. It looks like it’s going to be tough to make it up.”

Both camps said Cantwell did better in the final tallies, particularly in vote-rich King, Pierce, Snohomish and Whatcom counties, than either side had projected.

“At the end, the trend line improved for us nearly everywhere,” Conklin said. Special ballots, including those cast by college students at the wrong precinct, and absentee ballots mailed on election night went strongly for Cantwell, he said.

Libertarian Jared, a Kirkland attorney, may have been a factor. Jared said his 65,000 votes were due in great part to unhappiness with Gorton’s stance in favor of some gun-control laws and his reluctance to cut the size and cost of government.

“Gorton’s record is to blame, not me,” he said.

Cantwell swamped Gorton by more than 150,000 votes in King County. She also was carrying Jefferson, San Juan, Snohomish and Thurston counties. Gorton was carrying the other 34 counties, although the race was close in Kitsap and Pierce counties.

Conklin said no one on the Cantwell staff has done any serious transition planning, but if she wins, they will rely heavily on Democrat Patty Murray, who would become the state’s senior senator after just eight years in office.

Today was the deadline for the state’s 39 counties to complete the counting that had dragged on for more than two weeks. Over 700,000 votes have been tallied since election night, mostly absentee ballots postmarked Nov. 7, but not received or processed for days after that.

Secretary of State Ralph Munro plans to order a recount Monday, when he will certify the county results. That is expected to be largely complete by the end of next week.

Under Washington law, a recount is automatic whenever a margin is less than 0.5 percent, or about 12,000 votes in the case of this year’s Senate election.

In recent years, recounts have been ordered for several congressional races and ballot measures. None reversed the original outcome.

Gorton himself had to go through a recount 32 years ago, when he won his first term as state attorney general. He has been in public office since 1958, the year Cantwell was born, except for a two-year break in Senate service after losing a 1986 re-election bid.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Kim Skarda points at her home on a map on Thursday, June 20, 2024 in Concrete, Washington. A community called Sauk River Estates has a very steep slope above it. There is a DNR-approved timber sale that boarders the estate properties, yet they were not consulted about the sale before approval. The community has already appealed the sale and has hired their own geologist to conduct a slope stability report at the site. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Beneath steep slope, Concrete neighbors fear landslides from logging above

Nielsen Brothers plans to cut 54 acres of timber directly behind the community of 83 homes. Locals said they were never consulted.

Law enforcement respond to a person hit by a train near the Port of Everett Mount Baker Terminal on Thursday, June 27, 2024 in Mukilteo, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
2 killed in waterfront train crashes were near Mukilteo ‘quiet zone’

In June, two people were hit by trains on separate days near Mukilteo Boulevard. “These situations are incredibly tragic,” Everett’s mayor said.

Rob Plotnikoff takes a measurement as a part of the county's State of Our Waters survey at Tambark Creek in Bothell, Washington on Monday, July 1, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Snohomish County stream team bushwhacks a path to healthier waterways

This summer, the crew of three will survey 40 sites for the State of Our Waters program. It’s science in locals’ backyards.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Mountlake Terrace in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
4th suspect arrested after Mountlake Terrace home robbery

Police arrested Taievion Rogers, 19, on Tuesday. Prosecutors charged his three alleged accomplices in April.

A 10 acre parcel off of Highway 99, between 240th and 242nd Street Southwest that the city of Edmonds is currently in the process of acquiring on Monday, July 10, 2023 in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Edmonds ditches $37M Landmark public park project off Highway 99

The previous mayor envisioned parks and more in south Edmonds, in a historically neglected area. The new administration is battling budget woes.

Edmonds school official sworn in as Mount Vernon supe

Victor Vergara took his oath of office last week. He was assistant superintendent of equity and student success in Edmonds.

Former president Donald Trump is seen with a bloody ear as he is assisted off the stage during a campaign rally in Butler, Pa., on Saturday. MUST CREDIT: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post
Pops, screams and then blood: On the scene at the Trump rally shooting

Isaac Arnsdorf, Jabin Botsford | The Washington Post BUTLER, Pa. - The… Continue reading

Biden, Democrats, Republicans denounce shooting at Trump rally

Reaction pours in from government leaders

A bloodied Donald Trump is surrounded by Secret Service agents at a campaign rally in Butler, Pa, on Saturday, July, 13, 2024. The former president was rushed off stage at rally after sounds like shots; the former president was escorted into his motorcade at his rally in Butler, Pa., a rural town about an hour north of Pittsburgh. (Doug Mills/The New York Times)
Trump rally shooting investigated as assassination attempt

President Joe Biden gave a brief televised statement, condemning the violence as “sick.”

Man charged with hate crime in knife attack at Ezell’s in Edmonds

The suspect, 47, waved a knife at two workers while yelling about getting rid of “the Hispanics,” charging papers say.

Firefighters and EMTs with Sky Valley Fire tour Eagle Falls while on an observational trip on Wednesday, July 10, 2024, near Index, Washington. (Jordan Hansen / The Herald)
Beautiful but deadly: Drownings common at Eagle Falls, other local waters

Locals and firefighters are sounding the alarm as Eagle Falls and the Granite Falls Fish Ladder have claimed five lives this year.

A view of the south eastern area of the Lake Stevens that includes lakeshore and UGA that is a part of the city's annexation area on Thursday, Dec. 31, 2020 in Lake Stevens, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Lake Stevens fight to take over sewer district could end soon

The city and sewer district have been locked in a yearslong dispute. A judge could put an end to the stalemate this month.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.