NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

Voters reelect Susan Owens, retain Steve Gonzalez in state Supreme Court races

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.

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