Republican challenger John Braun was beating State Sen. Dan Swecker, 57.17 percent to 42.83 percent.
“I think the people are ready for new leadership,” said Braun, president of Braun Northwest, a Chehalis-based emergency vehicle business.
Braun said his private sector experience and job-creating message put him over the top.
Swecker, who has held his position for 18 years, said voters of the district preferred a new face.
“I would have preferred to win, of course,” he said, but, “it’s not the only thing for me in the future.”
Swecker ran as pro-gun rights and pro-union and said he wanted to tackle the state Department of Labor & Industries. He also said he wanted to update the state Growth Management and Environmental Policy acts.
Braun’s top priorities were education, the state budget and improving the business climate. He also has said he wants to tackle the state’s unemployment compensation system, which he called one of the most expensive in the country.
Meanwhile, Incumbent Rep. Ed Orcutt was handily defeating independent Republican John Morgan in the 20th Legislative District, 70.05 percent to 29.95 percent.
Orcutt, who has held his position for 11 years, is getting to know an essentially new 20th District after redistricting earlier this year. He said the district is about 75 percent new to him.
“I spent a lot of time, you know ,trying to get to know folks in Thurston and Lewis counties,” he said.
“They’ve liked what I’ve had to say.”
But Morgan wasn’t ready to concede because not all the votes are counted. “I don’t think the results are even close...” he said, adding it’s “not over until the fat lady sings.”
Orcutt, a consulting forester from Kalama, has said his top concern is unemployment. He has said he wants to work on regulations, especially for business, to make it easier for employers that hire more workers.
But Morgan, a transportation specialist from Rochester, had said politicians can’t create jobs and he was running to give the district better representation.
Both candidates are against higher taxes, but have different positions on how to fund basic education as the state Supreme Court mandated in the McCleary decision. Orcutt favors a tax swap, taking a portion of voter-approved excess levies and putting it under state property tax, then reducing the amount that local districts could levy.
But Morgan has said there’s no reason that education shouldn’t already be adequately funded.