A slate of supposedly reasonable Republican legislative candidates backed by The Seattle Times in four swing legislative districts are headed down to defeat in this year’s pivotal 2022 midterms, while an additional three endorsed Republicans in two safe Republican districts are winning as expected.
Voters in the 5th, 44th, 45th, and 47th Districts rejected the Times’ advice to strengthen the ranks of the House and Senate Republican caucuses in Olympia, preferring instead to stick with Democratic representation.
Democrats are now set to have a very healthy trifecta in Washington for at least two more years (until 2025). Republicans haven’t had a House majority in Washington since the 1990s and haven’t controlled the Senate since 2017.
The Seattle Times Company endorsed mostly Democratic candidates for the Legislature this year and anticipated a Democratic hold of both chambers.
However, as mentioned, in four swing districts not far from the City of Seattle, the Times picked a Republican challenger over a Democratic incumbent.
The Times also endorsed two Republican incumbent legislators plus a Republican challenger to an ultra MAGA, election-denying Republican incumbent.
The Times’ 2022 Republican legislative endorsements consisted of:
- Chad Magendanz in the 5th. “Magendanz’s proven record of independent thinking, working across the aisle and well respected work on the McCleary bill put him in the best position to make needed reforms to truly bring equity to all Washington schools,” the editorial board said. But voters in the 5th demonstrated that they want former school board member Lisa Callan, an Issaquah Democrat, to continue to represent them. Magendanz currently has 45.46% of the vote.
- Drew Stokesbary in the 31st. “Over four terms in the Legislature, Stokesbary has been a strong, moderate voice speaking out for his constituents. He has proved himself an effective legislator and leader on budget issues,” the editorial board said. The 31st is a solidly Republican Pierce and King County district that hasn’t elected a Democrat in years. Stokesbary currently has 59.78% of the vote.
- Sam Low in the 39th. “A fiscal conservative, Low wants to provide tax relief to state residents struggling with inflation as well as preserve farmland and open space. He offers a return to a credible, legislative problem-solving style,” the editorial board said. The 39th is also a Republican district. Low, a Snohomish County councilmember, took on election denier Robert Sutherland in a Republican-on-Republican contest, with the backing of J.T. Wilcox. Low currently has 54.92% of the vote.
- Carolyn Eslick in the 39th. “Eslick has taken a well-considered position as a Republican moderate, critical of high-spending Democratic policies and reactionary posturing within her own Republican party,” the editorial board said. Eslick currently has 57.59% of the vote.
- Mark Harmsworth in the 44th. “As a small-business owner, Harmsworth said he knows firsthand the red tape and bureaucracy that comes with running a business. He wants to help streamline permitting and bring some tax relief to Washingtonians,” the editorial board said. But voters in the Snohomish County district are saying no to his comeback bid. Harmsworth is currently losing to Brandy Donaghy with 45.58% of the vote.
- Ryika Hooshangi in the 45th. “The Republican, who supports abortion rights, will help bring much-needed balance to the Legislature with a moderate, collaborative brand of politics that is progressive on social policies and conservative on fiscal issues,” the editorial board said. Voters in the 45th emphatically disagreed. Hooshangi has 36.61% of the vote.
- Bill Boyce in the 47th. “Boyce’s deep public-service involvement in the communities of the 47th District make him the clear choice,” the editorial board wrote. But voters are going with former State Senator Claudia Kauffman, a Native American who held the position from 2007–2011. Boyce currently has 46.68% of the vote.
In a big break with the past, no Republican candidates for federal office were endorsed by the newspaper this year. Instead, the Times offered enthusiastic support for Patty Murray and Kim Schrier. Incumbent Secretary of State Steve Hobbs also received a glowing recommendation from the Times.
Due to having mostly endorsed Democrats and progressive positions on ballot measures this year, the Times’ overall win-loss column looks really good.
But the board was clearly hoping that voters across suburban and exurban Central Puget Sound would make the area’s legislative representation more Republican than it has been since 2017–2018. That simply isn’t happening.