It’s been a good night for Supreme Court incumbents so far.
Justices Susan Owens and Steve Gonzalez each appear to have won new six-year terms representing the people of Washington on the state’s highest court, which is comprised of nine justices overall.
Under Washington State law, a candidate for Supreme Court or appellate court in Washington is elected if he or she wins a majority of the vote (as opposed to a plurality) in the winnowing election.
Considering that both of the aforementioned justices have well above fifty percent of the vote in early returns, it seems safe to conclude that they will be able to wind down their campaigns and prepare for the Court’s next term.
As of 9:40 PM, here were the results for Supreme Court Position #2:
Susan Owens: 63.5% (413,402 votes)
Douglas W. McQuaid: 24.14% (157,169 votes)
Scott Stafne: 12.36% (80,459 votes)
And here were the results for Position #8:
Steve Gonzalez: 56.9% (364,615 votes)
Bruce O. Danielson: 43.1% (276,142 votes)
Prior to the incorporation of King County’s returns into the statewide results, Gonzalez held only a narrow lead over challenger Bruce Danielson, who did not campaign but nevertheless is winning by astonishing margins in nearly all of the state’s rural counties. Gonzalez, however, is winning big on his home turf of King County… and when I say big, I mean really big. Gonzalez has a whopping 74% of the vote in King County, which has allowed him to jump ahead of Danielson to a more comfortable statewide lead. Gonzalez is also winning in some key swing counties, including Snohomish, Pierce, Kitsap, Whatcom, Island, and Thurston.
Gonzalez was appointed to the Supreme Court in January by Governor Chris Gregoire. He succeeded retiring Justice Gerry Alexander, who left the court after reaching the mandatory retirement age. Prior to his appointment, Gonzalez was a well-respected King County Superior Court judge.
Because he only drew one challenger, Gonzalez’s race was guaranteed to be decided in the winnowing election. (Excluding write-ins, it’s mathematically impossible for one candidate to not to have more than fifty percent of the vote when the vote can only be split between two candidates). Owens might have gone to a runoff in November had her opponents captured more of the vote, but even with two challengers, she still managed to get above the sixty percent mark.
That’s pretty impressive.