Gov. Jay Inslee speaks at an election night party for Democrats on Tuesday, Nov. 8, in Seattle. Inslee defeated Republican challenger Bill Bryant to win re-election. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Gov. Jay Inslee speaks at an election night party for Democrats on Tuesday, Nov. 8, in Seattle. Inslee defeated Republican challenger Bill Bryant to win re-election. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Gov. Inslee on path to re-election


OLYMPIA — Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee grabbed a commanding lead on Republican Bill Bryant on Tuesday and began planning for a second term in office.

Inslee led Bryant by a margin of 56.3 percent to 43.7 percent statewide and 54.2 percent to 45.6 percent in Snohomish County, a battleground Republicans considered a must-win to capture victory.

Inslee celebrated the results at an election night party, saying voters chose “to stay on the path to progress. We will keep moving forward. I look forward to getting up every morning as a confident and optimistic governor.”

A spokesman for Bryant said the challenger is not conceding. There are another 1.2 million votes to count and most are not in King County — where Inslee received a whopping 70.5 percent in balloting Tuesday night.

“We are going to hold tight and wait to see when those other votes are counted,” campaign spokesman Jason Roe said.

Results were to be updated overnight in King County and throughout Wednesday statewide. Snohomish County plans to post new vote totals at 5 p.m. Wednesday.

In the campaign, Inslee and Bryant provided voters with two starkly different views of the state.

Inslee, 65, touted the successes of his first term: an economy roaring back from recession, a public education system infused with billions of additional dollars, a reduction of college tuition, more people with health insurance and the largest investment in transportation improvements in state history.

While he acknowledged challenges ahead, such as meeting a state Supreme Court edict to fully fund public schools and a mental health system in need of resources, Inslee never wavered in his upbeat diagnosis for the future.

“We have made solid progress in our first four years,” he said. “I am confident and optimistic for the next four years. I’m not done with this job. I know the challenges can be overcome.”

Bryant, 56, is attempting to become the first Republican to be elected governor in Washington since 1980. He entered the race in 2015, largely unknown to voters. Leaders of his party, and the national Republican Governors Association, tried to corral better known Republicans to run but one-by-one they declined, clearing the field for Bryant.

Bryant sought to make the race a referendum on Inslee’s record since taking office in January 2013. In his campaign he sketched a darker picture of Inslee’s tenure.

He cited the mistaken early release of prisoners by the state Department of Corrections that went unfixed for three years after its discovery. He talked of how Western State Hospital, the state’s largest psychiatric facility, nearly lost its federal funding due to concerns about security and safety of patients and workers.

And Bryant criticized Inslee for not foreseeing problems that have beset I-405 express toll lanes and for not adequately serving the surging population of homeless people in the Puget Sound region.

But Bryant struggled to raise money to get his message out and it hurt especially in the final weeks of the campaign when Inslee commercials filled the air waves.

The governor raised $9.9 million compared to Bryant’s tally of $3.8 million, according to online reports of the state Public Disclosure Commission.

In addition, a pro-Inslee super PAC funded by statewide labor unions and the Democratic Governors Association spent $726,800 in ads attacking Bryant. And the Republican challenger had no outside groups coming to his aid.

In recent days, as statewide polls showed Inslee hovering around 50 percent, Inslee campaigned alongside Democratic candidates in hopes of getting more allies in the Legislature.

Inslee has struggled to get his policies passed by a part-time Legislature in which Democrats control the House and Republicans rule the Senate.

For example, he could not get lawmakers to pass his cap-and-trade plan to reduce carbon emissions, which are seen as a contributing cause of global warming.

In 2013 and 2015, differences between House and Senate leaders and the governor on budgets nearly led to a shutdown of state government.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623 Twitter: @dospueblos.

Talk to us

More in Local News

This photo provided by OceanGate Expeditions shows a submersible vessel named Titan used to visit the wreckage site of the Titanic. In a race against the clock on the high seas, an expanding international armada of ships and airplanes searched Tuesday, June 20, 2023, for the submersible that vanished in the North Atlantic while taking five people down to the wreck of the Titanic. (OceanGate Expeditions via AP)
A new movie based on OceanGate’s Titan submersible tragedy is in the works: ‘Salvaged’

MindRiot announced the film, a fictional project titled “Salvaged,” on Friday.

Craig Hess (Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office)
Sultan’s new police chief has 22 years in law enforcement

Craig Hess was sworn in Sep. 14. The Long Island-born cop was a first-responder on 9/11. He also served as Gold Bar police chief.

Cars move across Edgewater Bridge toward Everett on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023, in Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Edgewater Bridge redo linking Everett, Mukilteo delayed until mid-2024

The project, now with an estimated cost of $27 million, will detour West Mukilteo Boulevard foot and car traffic for a year.

Lynn Deeken, the Dean of Arts, Learning Resources & Pathways at EvCC, addresses a large gathering during the ribbon cutting ceremony of the new Cascade Learning Center on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2023, at Everett Community College in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
New EvCC learning resource center opens to students, public

Planners of the Everett Community College building hope it will encourage students to use on-campus tutoring resources.

Everett Police Chief Dan Templeman announces his retirement after 31 years of service at the Everett City Council meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Everett police chief to retire at the end of October

Chief Dan Templeman announced his retirement at Wednesday’s City Council meeting. He has been chief for nine years.

Boeing employees watch the KC-46 Pegasus delivery event  from the air stairs at Boeing on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019 in Everett, Wa. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Boeing’s iconic Everett factory tour to resume in October

After a three-year hiatus, tours of the Boeing Company’s enormous jet assembly plant are back at Paine Field.

A memorial for a 15-year-old shot and killed last week is set up at a bus stop along Harrison Road on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2023, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Teen boy identified in fatal shooting at Everett bus stop

Bryan Tamayo-Franco, 15, was shot at a Hardeson Road bus stop earlier this month. Police arrested two suspects.

A suspected hit and run crash Wednesday morning left a pedestrian dead on I-5 north near Marysville. (Washington State Patrol)
Suspected hit and run crash on I-5 near Marysville leaves 1 dead

State patrol responded to reports of a body on the right shoulder of I-5. Two lanes were closed while troopers investigated.

Representative Rick Larsen speaks at the March For Our Lives rally on Saturday, June 11, 2022 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Larsen: ‘Fractured caucus’ of House Republicans is ‘unable to lead’

Following removal of the House speaker, a shutdown still looms. Congress has until Nov. 17 to devise a spending plan.

Spada Lake is seen from Culmback Dam on Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023, near Sultan, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Helicopter crash in Copper Lake sparks environmental, health concerns

Rangers hadn’t heard of fly-in tourism in the area — which can harm the wilderness and people downstream, advocates say.

Man charged with dealing fentanyl pills that led to Arlington overdose

Prosecutors charged Robin Clariday with controlled substance homicide. He allegedly handed Bradley Herron the pills outside a hotel.

Seattle woman identified in fatal Highway 99 crash

Elena Mroczek, 74, was killed Sunday in a crash involving a 19-year-old.