Legislative positions in Washington State are not normally contested in odd numbered years, but due to two resignations following last year’s midterms, two of Washington’s newest legislators appeared on this year’s ballot to defend their seats in special elections. Both of them are comfortably ahead in early returns.
Senator Lovelett leads in the 40th
Early results on election night showed Washington State Senator for the 40th Legislative District, Elizabeth (Liz) Lovelett (D‑40th District: Anacortes, San Juan Islands) defending her Senate seat. Voters in the 40th LD, which includes San Juan County and portions of Whatcom and Skagit Counties, backed Lovelett overwhelmingly. Her Republican opponent is nowhere close to her.
Lovelett was appointed to the Washington State Senate in February, a few weeks after former Democratic State Senator Kevin Ranker abruptly resigned amid allegations that he harassed a female employee.
She then defended her seat in Washington’s Top Two election back in August against two other Democratic challengers.
Daniel Miller, the only Republican who filed in the race, faced off against Lovelett in the general election. Two hours after the 8 PM ballot cut off time, Lovelett was leading with nearly 70 percent of the votes.
Lovelett was an active legislator in this year’s long session.
She describes her accomplishments as having secured record higher education funding, implementing modest reforms to Washington’s regressive tax code and dedicated a majority of her bandwidth as a legislator to landing clean energy investments. She also served on the Transportation Committee and was made the Vice Chair of the Energy, Environment and Technology Committee.
Assuming she wins, she hopes to return to the Legislature to continue her efforts to preserve Washington’s environment amid threats from the climate crisis, invest in clean energy, and move Washington towards a greener future.
For example, she is keen on electrifying Washington State Ferries’ fleet.
Before serving as state senator, Lovelett was on the Anacortes City Council, representing an at large position, Position #6, since 2013.
Her campaign for reelection was supported by many influential organizations, including the Washington State Labor Council, Washington Education Association, Lummi Nation and Washington Conservation Voters.
Representative Ybarra ahead in the 13th
Over in the 13th LD, located in Eastern Washington and spanning over all or most of Lincoln, Grant and Kittitas counties, Representative Alex Ybarra leads by an enormous margin in his race against Democratic challenger Steve Verhey.
Ybarra was nominated to the House seat when Matt Manweller vacated the spot shortly after being elected amid sexual misconduct allegations.
Ybarra hopes to return to the Legislature for the 2020 session to focus on water issues and education, which were also his priorities this past year.
During the 2019 session, Ybarra’s bill that allowed more flexibility on requirements for new teachers was signed by Governor Jay Inslee.
“I’m excited to see this become law. My bill will open up opportunities for people looking to change careers and attract a more diverse pool of candidates into education programs,” said Ybarra in a statement about the education bill.
Before being nominated for the House position, Ybarra worked as a reliability and compliance internal auditor for the Grant County Public Utility District. He was also a member of the Quincy school board and a member of Washington’s Commission on Hispanic Affairs, as well as the School Directors Association Board.