Dunshee wins eighth term

  • By Alexis Bacharach Enterprise editor
  • Wednesday, November 5, 2008 1:19pm

State Rep. Hans Dunshee retained his seat in an overwhelming victory over Republican challenger Larry Countryman.

The Snohomish Democrat was leading by 27 points at 8:30 p.m. on election night, leaving no chance for Countryman, a former Snohomish City Councilman, to catch him.

“I’m honored,” Dunshee said in a phone interview Tuesday night. “But I never expected I’d get it by that much.”

His opponent is known in the region for his political cartoons — one in particular from 2004 depicting Dunshee and Gov. Chris Gregoire as pirates.

Countryman chose to run opposite Dunshee this year because he wanted to give something back to people in Washington and has the time to do so now that he’s retired.

But it seems voters chose experience over change in the 44th district race.

The victory guarantees Dunshee’s eighth term in the state House, where he currently serves as vice chairman for the House Appropriations Committee. Dunshee also serves on the House Parks and Ecology Committee and the House Capital Budget Committee.

And while he’s happy to retain his spot in the House, Dunshee admits the next two years will be hard for lawmakers responsible for cutting some $3.2 billion from the budget to balance a projected shortfall in 2011.

“The numbers are going to get worse,” Dunshee told the Enterprise editorial board in October. “Everyone’s going to feel the pain in the next biennium.”

A number of Dunshee’s pet projects, like biofuels research and production, will have to take a back seat for now, he added.

Many lawmakers have promised to protect education, public safety, health care and other social programs from budget cuts, but Dunshee says such promises are irresponsible.

“I’m happy to celebrate this victory but there are many challenges facing our state,” Dunshee said. “My first priority is scrubbing the budget — rolling up my sleeves and getting down to business.”

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