The numbers are still changing and might be different by mid-day Wednesday, but tonight it looks like Republicans closed the majority Democrats¡¦ edge by at least six seats in the Washington state House. They also are on the verge of gaining up to six more seats in the state Senate.
My count tonight shows Democrats with a tentative 55-43 edge in the House and a tentative 25-24 edge in the Senate ¡V down from 61-37 and 31-18, respectively. If the vote trends hold up, and I¡¦m not sure how some of them will go, the power shift would change the dynamics of the Legislature, especially in the Senate.
That is where maverick Democratic Sen. Tim Sheldon could gain new clout as the swing man on key Senate votes. He's long been a reliable vote for Republicans on budget, tax and regulatory issues.
The seats that appear to be shifting from Democrat to Republican in the House:Þ Republican Heidi Munson is winning one of two open seats in the 1st district near Bothell formerly held by Democrats Mark Ericks and Al O'Brien.Þ Former Republican lawmaker John Ahern was beating Democrat John Driscoll in Spokane's 6th district.Þ Paul Harris was beating Democrat Monica Stonier in the 17th.Þ Republican Vincent Buys was defeating top House Democratic budget writer Kelli Linville in Bellingham's 42nd district.Þ Republican Kevin Haistings was narrowly beating Democratic Rep. Roger Goodman in Kirkland.Þ Republican Mark Hargrove was easily beating Democratic Rep. Geoff Simpson in the Covington area's 47th district.
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Also, Republican businessman J.T. Wilcox of Roy defeated Republican Tom Campbell in the 2nd district, providing the GOP with a more reliable vote on labor and environmental issues.
And two Democratic finance experts ¡V Reps. Hans Dunshee of Snohomish and Ross Hunter of Medina ¡V were narrowly holding off Republican challenges. But even if they lose, Democrats could retain a 53-seat majority.
In the Senate, several first-term Democrats will be packing their bags. As of tonight, those at risk of losing were:Þ Sen. Chris Marr, trailing Michael Baumgartner in Spokane's 6th district.Þ Appointed Sen. Randy Gordon was losing to Steve Litzow in Bellevue's 41st district. Þ Former lawmaker Dave Schmidt was beating Democratic Sen. Steve Hobbs by 52 votes in the 44th district near Bothell.Þ Republican Andy Hill was beating Democratic Sen. Eric Oemig of Kirkland by just over 2,000 votes in the 45th district.Þ Joe Fain was beating Democratic Sen. Claudia Kauffman in the 47th district near Kent.Þ And Greg Bennett was leading Democratic Sen. Rodney Tom (a former Republican) in the 48th district near Bellevue and Medina.
In one other hot race, Democratic Sen. Tracey Eide of Federal Way was leading Republican challenger Tony Moore by just 352 votes in the 30th district.
More votes will be in later today.