Election 2017: Johanknecht, Woodards Continue To Widen Leads

Nov 7, 2017

Update 5:30 p.m. Nov. 9: Some Races Remain Close, But Leads Widen

Some patterns are emerging two days after election night, while some races remain very tight.

Challenger Mitzi Johanknecht is even closer to unseating incumbent King County Sheriff John Urquhart. She led Thursday evening 54 percent to Urquhart's 46 percent, widening her lead from a 4-point difference to an 8-point difference. 

Several news outlets have called the race in Johanknecht's favor, but Urquhart had not conceded as of Thursday.

In the Tacoma Mayoral race, former City Councilwoman Victoria Woodards also widened her lead over architect Jim Merritt. She had an 8-point lead Thursday evening, up from 4 percentage points on Tuesday.

A winner has not yet been declared in that race.

The Everett mayoral race continues to be too close to call. City Council members Judy Tuohy and Cassie Franklin were separated by just 19 votes Thursday, with Tuohy leading.

Update 6:11 p.m. Nov. 8: Durkan Prepares For Office

Jenny Durkan is preparing to take office as Seattle's next mayor. The former U.S. Attorney issued a statement Wednesday, congratulating opponent Cary Moon on a strong race. Moon had conceded earlier in the afternoon.

"In nearly 100 debates and forums, I saw firsthand [Moon's] love for our city and her commitment to compassionately address the toughest challenges facing Seattle," Durkan's statement said. "I have no doubt that Cary will remain active in our city and continue to contribute to its vibrant future."

Durkan also said that she plans to start working with Mayor Tim Burgess to ensure a smooth transition of power. That will happen faster for Durkan than it did for her elected predecessors.

Because of former Mayor Ed Murray's resignation in September, Durkan is expected to take office after the election results are certified later this month.

Update 4:55 p.m. Nov. 8: Next Day Returns Solidify Some Races

Former U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan will be Seattle's next mayor. Durkan maintained her 20-point lead Wednesday afternoon over waterfront activist Cary Moon. 

In an emailed statement shortly after the latest returns were posted, Moon said she offered her congratulations to Durkan as Seattle's first woman mayor in 90 years and she urges Durkan to "boldy confront the challenges facing our city."

"To our supporters who may feel disappointed, I feel disappointed too. But I will not let the future of our city be sunk by status quo thinking and politics as usual. There is too much at stake," Moon said.

Democrat Manka Dhingra also maintained her 10-point lead over Republican Jinyoung Englund, solidifying Dhingra's win in Washington's 45th Legislative District. She will represent parts of eastern King County in the state Senate. Challenger Mitzi Johanknecht widened her lead slightly over incumbent King County Sheriff John Urquhart. In the Tacoma mayoral race, former City Councilwoman Victoria Woodards also widened her lead slightly over architect Jim Merritt. Update 8:35 p.m. Nov. 7: First Return 

Former U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan led urban planner and waterfront activist Cary Moon by 20 percentage points in the Seattle mayoral race Tuesday evening as the first election returns came in.

Before the drop, Moon's campaign said they would have been comfortable with a 10 point deficit. But in a speech Tuesday night, Moon did not concede the race, saying she looked forward to the next few days.

In the Tacoma mayoral race, former City Councilwoman Victoria Woodards led architect Jim Merritt about 52 percent to 48 percent. 

"Tacoma chose hope over hatred," Woodards said in a speech at Urban Elk, where her campaign was holding a party.

In a hotly contested state senate race, Democrat Manka Dhingra was leading Republican Jinyoung Englund about 55 percent to 45 percent to fill the state Senate seat in the 45th Legislative District on the east side of Lake Washington.

Mitzi Johanknecht leads incumbent King County Sheriff John Urquhart.
Credit Gary Davis / KNKX

And challenger Mitzi Johanknecht was leading incumbent King County Sheriff John Urquhart about 52 percent to 48 percent. Johanknecht is a major in the sheriff's office. 

"Never say die," said Urquhart. "I’m going to look in the mirror, and I’m going to be proud of the job I did as sheriff. I'm going to be proud of the race that I ran, and the fact that I ran a clean race.”

Johanknecht said she's optimistic her lead will hold.

“The expectation is it will climb from there. So we’re feeling really good about it," she said. "We were ready if we were down by points, because we knew the late votes would pick up for us.”

Find your county's election results here.  In most counties, results will be updated every afternoon until Nov. 28, when election results are certified. 

Update 2:44 p.m. Nov. 7: Turnout So Far

Washington is a vote-by-mail state. Ballots only need to be postmarked by Election Day, which means outcomes could change as the days go on.

For example, King County is projecting about 48 percent of registered voters will submit a ballot this year. As of noon Tuesday, the county is seeing about 22 percent turnout.

"We're expecting a lot more ballots to come in, especially through drop boxes," King County Elections spokeswoman Kafia Hosh said. 

Turnout in last year's presidential election was about 80 percent in King County. But more people tend to vote in presidential years. The last post-presidential election year was 2013, where the county saw just 46 percent turnout.

The decisions voters are making Tuesday will primarily affect their cities and counties.

"The people who decide what books your kids read in school, the people who decide what quality of streets you drive on, the people who decide how fast emergency medical services can get to your house -- those are important decisions to be made," said Washington Secretary of State spokesman Erich Ebel.

Many races will not be decisive come Tuesday evening. In Seattle, for example, later returns tend to be a boost for candidates who are seen as more progressive.

In the August primary, mayoral candidate Jenny Durkan held a commanding lead. But the gap between her and second-place finisher Cary Moon closed as the days went on, while Moon herself was in tight competition with third-place candidate Nikkita Oliver.

In Snohomish County, turnout is projected at 31 percent. Turnout is projected to be 34 percent in Pierce County.

Original Story:  Races We're Watching

Seattle Mayor

Ever since The Seattle Times first reported about men coming forward to say that former Mayor Ed Murray sexually abused them decades ago, this race has been fiercely competitive.  Murray has denied the allegations, but dropped out of the race earlier this spring, which prompted a crowded 21-candidate primary. 

Former U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan and waterfront activist Cary Moon emerged from the August primary. Murray resigned from office a month later.

Durkan and Moon differ somewhat in their positions on issues such as housing, homelessness and policing. How they have addressed the allegations against Murray has also become an issue.

Murray endorsed Durkan, and she declined to call for his resignation until a fifth man, Murray's cousin, accused the former mayor of sexual abuse. Moon was among other primary candidates who had called for him to resign earlier.

Because of the resignation, the winner will take office as soon as the election results are certified instead of in January.

Whoever wins will also be the first woman to be mayor since Bertha Knight Landes, who served from 1926 to 1928.

Other Seattle And King County Races

The two citywide seats on the Seattle City Council are also up for election this year. Labor leader Teresa Mosqueda and activist Jon Grant are vying for Position 8, formerly inhabited by now-Mayor Tim Burgess and temporarily held by Kirsten Harris-Talley. Incumbent Lorena Gonzalez is facing business owner Pat Murakami for Position 9.

Three school board positions are also being contested. Here's a look at one of the districts representing Southeast Seattle.

King County Sheriff John Urquhart faces a challenger in Mitzi Johanknecht, a major in the sheriff's office. That race has become especially contentious since allegations of sexual assault have emerged against Urquhart.

45th Legislative District Senate Seat 

Republican Jinyoung Lee Englund, left, and Democrat Manka Dhingra, right, are vying for the 45th legislative district Senate seat. Dhingra leads in early results.
Credit Campaign Photos

This seat was occupied by Republican state Sen. Andy Hill until his death from lung cancer last year. Former Republican state Sen. Dino Rossi was selected to temporarily fill the position, but declined to run in this year's special election. 

The situation has led two political newcomers to compete in a race that's garnered national attention. If Republican Jinyoung Englund wins, the status quo stays the same.

But if Democrat Manka Dhingra wins, the governor's office and both chambers of the state Legislature fall under Democratic control, and Republicans lose the only G.O.P.-held chamber on the West Coast.

The district, east of Lake Washington, has been considered a swing district. But voters went for Hilary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, and its state representatives are also Democrats.

Millions of dollars have poured into both sides of the race. But whoever wins will have to run again in 2018.

South Sound Races

The race between former City Councilmember Victoria Woodards and architect Jim Merritt to be Mayor of Tacoma has become increasingly heated. Woodards' supporters say some of the criticisms of her have a racial subtext, while Merritt's campaign has complained about ads comparing him to President Donald Trump.

Ultimately, the mayor in Tacoma has few real powers beyond those of a regular city council member. It's largely a symbolic position as the face of the city.

Tacoma will also be electing five city council members.

In Burien, city council races have become a referendum on immigration and racial justice, after the city passed a law protecting undocumented immigrants earlier this year.

Homelessness has been a defining issue in a city council race in Puyallup. A proposal to build a shelter in the district has caused conflict.

North Sound Races

Everett will be getting its first female mayor in 124 years. Cassie Franklin and Judy Tuohy both serve on the city council. Franklin has been on the council for about two years while Tuohy has served for three.

Whatcom County has been re-districted. One political science professor says that process and this year's election could shift the County Council to the right, particularly on environmental issues.

Peninsula Cities Consider Government Changes

Shelton voters are considering a proposition to move from a three-member commission to a seven-member city council. It's the last city in Washington to be governed by commission, which performs both executive and legislative functions.

Meanwhile Port Angeles is considering becoming a "second-class" city. Like most other cities in the state, it's currently a "code" city, which gives it certain local powers. Only five other cities in Washington are at second-class status.