House may split again


Herald Writer

Voters in Washington and across the nation were either incredibly indecisive or bewilderingly balanced.

The split electorate has left races up in the air from state legislator to U.S. senator to president. And after Friday’s count of nearly 100,000 ballots in Washington, the state House of Representatives appears to be split evenly between Republicans and Democrats.

If the numbers hold up, this will be a record-breaking year for tied legislative chambers across the United States. There are still about 60,000 ballots left to count in this state next week.

Over the past two years, the Washington House was the only evenly split chamber in the country. Tied chambers aren’t unusual — there’s been at least one somewhere in the country every year since 1984 — but they’re also not common. The most in any election year until now has been three, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

This year, it looks like the Washington House will join the tied ranks with Senate chambers in Arizona, Maine and South Carolina.

Not only are tied chambers on the rise, but there’s more political balance than ever before. The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that Republicans control both chambers in 17 state legislatures, Democrats in 16, and 16 legislatures are shared by the parties. Nebraska only has one legislative chamber, which is nonpartisan.

By Friday’s count in Washington, the Democrats still had a one-seat lead in the Senate.

Before Friday, the Democrats were ahead by two seats in the House, 50-48, thanks to two King County Democratic House candidates who held slim leads.

But Republican incumbent Jack Cairnes, who had been behind Democrat Debbie Jacobson by 108 votes, is now ahead of her by 124 votes for a seat in the 47th Legislative District, southeast of Renton.

And Republicans could even take control if the second close race changes. In the 47th District’s other House spot, Republican incumbent Phil Fortunato narrowed the gap behind Democrat Geoff Simpson to 153 votes.

The Cairnes race is so close it could require a hand recount by the time all’s said and done on Wednesday. In Washington, a hand recount is required if the difference between two candidates is one-quarter of 1 percent and less than 150 votes.

Snohomish County election workers counted about 10,000 ballots Friday, but no results changed.

The counties have to turn in their results to the state on Wednesday. Then the Secretary of State’s Office has until Dec. 7 to ask for recounts and do a final certification of the results.

"We go over everything and make sure there’s no questions that arise from what they have on their reports," said Greg Nordlund of the Secretary of State’s Office.

The House Republicans plan to vote on their caucus leadership today,1 although it will still be up in the air whether their leader will be called speaker, co-speaker or minority leader.

While the House’s tie of the past two years was difficult and created a lot of deadlock, Rep. Renee Radcliff, R-Mukilteo, said she doesn’t think hard feelings remain.

"If nothing else, we have a little experience with it and we’ll make it work," Radcliff said. "It’s going to be a tough budget year. We’re still experiencing the ramifications of I-695, and now with all the new initiatives, it’s not going to be easy."

Some hard feelings likely will remain after this year’s "unusually vicious" election season, Radcliff said, "but we’ll get over it."

The campaigning was brutal because both parties were trying so hard to break the tie, and Radcliff called it "the ultimate irony" that all the efforts may not have paid off.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

A big decision for Boeing’s next CEO: Is it time for a new plane?

As Boeing faces increased competition from Airbus, the company is expected to appoint a new CEO by the end of the year.

A Mukilteo Speedway sign hangs at an intersection along the road in Mukilteo. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Mukilteo Speedway name change is off to a bumpy start

The city’s initial crack at renaming the main drag got over 1,500 responses. Most want to keep the name.

Two workers walk past a train following a press event at the Lynnwood City Center Link Station on Friday, June 7, 2024, in Lynnwood, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Trains up and running on Lynnwood Link — but no passengers quite yet

Officials held an event at the Lynnwood station announcing the start of “pre-revenue” service. Passengers still have to wait till August.

Nedra Vranish, left, and Karen Thordarson, right browse colorful glass flowers at Fuse4U during Sorticulture on Friday, June 7, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
A promenade through Everett’s popular Sorticulture garden festival

Check out a gallery of the festival’s first day.

Left to right, Everett Pride board members Ashley Turner, Bryce Laake, and Kevin Daniels pose for a photo at South Fork Bakery in Everett, Washington on Sunday, May 26, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Second Everett Pride aims for even bigger rainbow of festivities

Organizers estimated about 3,000 people attended the first block party in Everett. This year, they’re aiming for 10,000.

School board members listen to public comment during a Marysville School Board meeting on Monday, June 3, 2024 in Marysville, Washington. Rinehardt is seated third from left. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Marysville school board president resigns amid turmoil

Wade Rinehardt’s resignation, announced at Monday’s school board meeting, continues a string of tumultuous news in the district.

A BNSF train crosses Grove St/72nd St, NE in Marysville, Washington on March 17, 2022. Marysville recently got funding for design work for an overcrossing at the intersection. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
BNSF owes nearly $400M to Washington tribe, judge rules

A federal judge ruled last year that the railroad trespassed as it sent trains carrying crude oil through the Swinomish Reservation.

The I-5, Highway 529 and the BNSF railroad bridges cross over Union Slough as the main roadways for north and southbound traffic between Everett and Marysville. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Highway 529 squeeze starts now between Everett, Marysville

Following a full closure for a night, starting late Sunday, Highway 529 will slim down to two lanes for months near the Snohomish River Bridge.

Everett Housing Authority is asking for city approval for its proposed development of 16 acres of land currently occupied by the vacant Baker Heights public housing development on Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022, in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Everett inches closer to Park District affordable housing plan

Building heights — originally proposed at 15 stories tall — could be locked in with council approval in July.

The intersection of Larch Way, Logan Road and Locust Way on Wednesday, March 27, 2024 in Alderwood Manor, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Roundabout project to shut down major Bothell intersection for months

The $4.5 million project will rebuild the four-way stop at Larch and Locust ways. The detour will stretch for miles.

State Sen. Mark Mullet, left, and Attorney General Bob Ferguson, right, are both running as Democrats for governor in 2024. (Photos courtesy of Mullet and Ferguson campaigns)
Rival Democrats spar over fundraising in Washington governor’s race

Mark Mullet is questioning Bob Ferguson’s campaign finance connections with the state party. Ferguson says the claims are baseless.

A log truck rolled over into power lines on Monday, June 17, in Darrington. (Photo provided by Alexis Monical)
Log truck rolls into utility lines in Darrington, knocking out power

The truck rolled over Monday morning at the intersection of Highway 530 and Fullerton Avenue. About 750 addresses were without power.

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.