This week, the counting phase of the 2022 midterm election in Washington came to an end, and the final results confirmed that Democrats have succeeded in enlarging their majority in the state House of Representatives by one seat with challenger Clyde Shavers’ victory over Republican incumbent Greg Gilday.
Gilday is one of two Republicans currently representing the 10th Legislative District, which includes all of Island County, southwest Skagit County, and a slice of northeast Snohomish County. The other is Senator Ron Muzzall.
The district’s other House seat has been held for several cycles by Democrat Dave Paul, who won reelection by a reasonably comfortable margin.
In the contest with Gilday, Shavers received a narrow majority of the vote (51.91%) in the initial round of Washington’s two-part general election system, surpassing Gilday, who received 47.94% of the vote.
Shavers seemed headed for victory last month too. But his prospects took a hit when Gilday’s campaign published a letter from Shavers’ father alleging that he embellished his resume. Despite Republican attempts to exploit the allegations for political gain, Shavers won. The results indicate that voters were accepting of Shavers’ apology and believe in his ability to represent the district in Olympia.
In a victory statement published on his website, Shavers remarked: “I believe that voters from all walks of life came together to reject today’s divisive politics and to build toward a kinder, more compassionate future. We saw that hope and faith is stronger than negativity and tearing others down.”
“I look forward to fully dedicating myself to the people of the 10th Legislative District – to the families struggling to make ends meet, veterans continuing to serve their community, farmers and farmworkers feeding us and the world, teachers and administrators inspiring our children, and public safety and healthcare workers protecting us each and every day.”
“Your support throughout this campaign has been unparalleled,” Shavers told his supporters. “Thank you so much for all that you offered – your time, your donations, and your words of encouragement. Our hard work paid off.”
“I want to congratulate Representative-elect Clyde Shavers on his win and know he will do an excellent job serving the 10th District in Olympia,” said Washington State Democratic Party Chair Tina Podlodowski.
“Clyde has been a dedicated lifelong public servant who has worked to make peoples’ lives better in both his own community and across the world. Washington Democrats contacted 48,000 voters in the 10th Legislative District and were proud to play a critical role in winning this very close election.”
“We are excited that Clyde will join a legislature with an expanded Democratic majority, and one that is the most diverse in our state’s history.”
Shavers’ final lead at certification was just 211 votes.
While this key legislative race has been considered too close to call through the counting period, there are no outstanding ballots left to count.
Shavers won Island County with 53.5% (a difference of nearly 3,100) and Skagit County with 56.5% (a difference of nearly 1,200). Gilday won Snohomish County with 59.2% of the vote (a difference of about 4,150).
Although the outcome is not expected to change, the contest now heads to a machine recount. Under state law, a recount is mandatory if the difference between two candidates is fewer than 2,000 votes and less than .5%.
Shavers’s 50.1% is only .2 percentage points ahead of Gilday’s 49.9% and only 211 votes separate the candidates, so a recount is necessary.
The recount will be a machine count and it should not take long to complete.
Island County plans to recount ballots in this race on Monday, December 12th.
“The machine recount for Legislative District #10, Position 1 race will take place in the Elections Office beginning at 9:00 a.m. on Monday, December 12th,” a notice published by Island County Elections explained. “This recount is expected to be completed in one day and will be certified by the Canvassing Board at their meeting on Tuesday, December 13th, 2022 at 9:00 a.m. The recounts will take place in the Elections Office at 400 N. Main St. in Coupeville.”
Gilday’s defeat leaves the Republican caucus with just forty members. There are ninety-eight seats in the Washington State House of Representatives.
Democrats have held a majority in the chamber since the turn of the century.
The closest Republicans have come to a majority in recent cycles was in the 2014 and 2016 elections, when they were able to win forty-eight seats.
In 2018, Democrats won fifty-seven seats, a feat they repeated in 2020. Having now won fifty-eight seats in what was supposed to be a “red wave” year, the party has showed that it is well positioned to continue its electoral dominance in legislative elections. It can do well in midterms regardless of whether a Republican or Democrat is in the White House as well as in presidential years.