In the 30th Legislative District’s $2 million contest for State House, Democratic incumbent Carol Gregory is trailing first time Republican candidate Teri Hickel by 1,035 votes, 53.92% to 46.08%. Gregory was appointed to the seat following the death of State Representative Roger Freeman in 2014. Early results may be misleading, as Gregory faced a similar deficit on election night in 2010, but eventually came within 300 votes of Republican victor Katrina Asay.
The mood was somber when the first results dropped at Carol Gregory’s campaign headquarters in Federal Way, where local Democrats had gathered.
Gregory gave a brief statement, thanking the many volunteers who came from all over the state to help the important campaign. “We’re all surprised,” she said. “We did everything we could besides going negative,” noting that rejection of attack ads was a policy she and her team adopted early on.
The campaign got a late start due to the three special sessions called to resolve the state budget deal. Regulations bar sitting legislators from campaigning or raising funds while the legislature is in session.
Still, Gregory raised $395,053.60 to Hickel’s $378,272.90.
Outside spending also played a major role in this race as PDC reports show $471,721.76 in independent expenditures opposing Gregory, compared to less than half that amount opposing Hickel.
The 30th is a perfect example of a suburban swing district, but is facing the prospect of an all-Republican legislative delegation for the first time in decades. 2015 being an odd-numbered year, the Gregory campaign’s primary strategy was to simply get out the vote, as high voter turn-out favors Democratic candidates.
Only about 20% of registered voters’ ballots had been counted as of November 3. Watch incoming results from both King and Pierce counties closely in the coming days, as Democrats have the potential to pull off a come-from-behind win.