GOP opponent: Special-interest money won Senate seat for Dems

Mindie Wirth

By Evan Smith

The Republican state Senate candidate who lost in the 1st Legislative District says that she couldn’t match her Democratic opponent’s financial contributions from special-interest groups or match the Democrats’ turnout in the district.

Republican Mindie Wirth said Tuesday, “I worked hard and put together a strong coalition of volunteers and supporters, but it was not enough in the face of a strong partisan Democrat turnout in King and Snohomish counties along with my opponent’s enormous number of special interest contributions.”

Wirth lost to Democrat Guy Palumbo by a 57 percent to 43 percent margin for the state Senate position that Democratic Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe is giving up after six four-year terms.

Palumbo expressed a different view last week.

“I think voters responded to our message that we need greater urgency when it comes to public-school funding and transportation,” he said.

District Democratic chairman Dan Willner also credited the campaign, not only for Palumbo’s victory but for the victories of two other local Democrats.

“We have a very active ground game,” Willner said. “We were able to spend money for printing sample ballots and got volunteers to show up seven days a week to go drop them on doorsteps and talk to people. Plus our candidates’ message resonated with the people they met on the doorstep. All in all, it is a group effort behind quality candidates to make it happen.”

Snohomish and King county officials certified final results Tuesday. State officials expected to certify results Wednesday.

The 1st Legislative District includes most of Mountlake Terrace, all of Brier and Bothell, north Kirkland, unincorporated areas of King County between Bothell and Kirkland, and unincorporated areas of Snohomish County north and east of Bothell including the Maltby area.

Turnout in the Snohomish County part of the district was 82.4 percent. Turnout in the King County portion of the district was 82.8 percent. Both counties had less than half those turnout levels in the August primary, when Wirth outpolled both Palumbo and Democratic state Rep. Luis Moscoso.

The district hasn’t elected a Republican since 1996.

Palumbo reported raising $221,989 and spending $206,490. Wirth reported raising $111,376 and spending $99,238. Palumbo’s largest contributors included business groups, labor organizations and supporters of charter schools. Wirth’s largest contributors included state and local Republican organizations and several business and professional organizations. Both candidates spent heavily on campaign mail.

Independent organizations spent $57,383 to support Palumbo. Independent expenditures came from a real-estate group, a dentists’ group, Planned Parenthood, an International Association of Fire Fighters local and a group supporting charter schools known as the Association for Washington Children.

Other 1st Legislative District results show incumbent Democratic state Rep. Derek Stanford defeating Republican Neil Thannisch 61 percent to 39 percent and Democrat Shelley Kloba leading Republican Jim Langston by a 55 percent to 45 percent margin for the position that Democratic State Rep. Moscoso gave up to run unsuccessfully in the August primary for the open state senate seat.

Thannisch said last week that Republicans in the district are stuck in a range between 35 and 45 percent of the vote.

Evan Smith can be reached at

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