State, Congressional incumbents keep seats

PORT ANGELES — It was business as usual Wednesday for Democratic incumbents who on election night made a clean sweep of their Republican opponents in contested races for 24th state Legislative District, 6th Congressional District and U.S. Senate positions.

It was also back to normal for those on the losing side of the ballot.

“If there’s one thing that gets you right with the world, it’s being outside with your dogs,” state House candidate Jim McEntire of Sequim said Wednesday morning.

As of Election Night Tuesday, 24th District Position 2 state Rep. Steve Tharinger, 69, of Port Townsend, was besting McEntire, 68, of Sequim 57 percent-43 percent in an area that covers Clallam and Jefferson counties and the northern third of Grays Harbor County.

Tharinger’s 24th District Position 1 House colleague, Mike Chapman, 55, of Port Angeles was beating Jodi Wilke, 59, of Port Townend, 59 percent-41 percent.

U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, 44, a Port Angeles native, was winning the 6th Congressional district, which includes Clallam, Jefferson and Grays Harbor counties, by 63 percent-37 percent over Doug Dightman, 48, of Shelton.

And U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, 60, of Edmonds, was beating former state Republican Party chair and TV news anchor Susan Hutchison, 64, of Seattle, statewide, 59 percent- 41 percent.

Kilmer and Cantwell both won Clallam and Jefferson counties, Kilmer by 57 percent-43 percent in Clallam and 73 percent- 27 percent in Jefferson, and Cantwell by 51 percent- 49 percent in Clallam and 69 percent-31 percent in Jefferson.

Jefferson County totals include tabulations of ballots as of Wednesday.

Chapman and Tharinger said they expect to continue their committee roles in a state House that will see a stronger Democratic Party majority.

Kilmer, part of the new Democratic majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, will continue serving on the Appropriations Committee, his aide, Tim Biba, said Wednesday in an email.

“He sees serving on this committee as one of the best opportunities to protect and create jobs and economic opportunities in the region,” Biba said.

Chapman, making his first run at re-election to the two-year position, also was questioning why he lost Grays Harbor to Wilke, 51 percent-49 percent, while winning Clallam 55 percent-41 percent as of Tuesday and Jefferson 70 percent-30 percent as of Wednesday.

No matter that Chapman had bested Wilke districtwide, or that Grays Harbor accounted for about 21,000 of the district’s 99,500 voters.

“I actually spent a lot of time there,” Chapman said of Grays Harbor, wondering why helping to secure hospital and pediatrician-services funding for Grays Harbor, the northern half of which is in the 24th, didn’t seem to be enough.

“I have to go down there and listen some more and figure out what was missing,” Chapman said.

“It keeps you humble. I want to represent the whole district, and I think I am.”

The remaining voters in Clallam and Jefferson counties included Wilke’s own Port Townsend precincts, which Chapman captured by a 5-1 margin over Wilke as of Wednesday’s Jefferson County tally.

Chapman and Tharinger are in a House in which Democratic Party power is expected to grow from 50 Democrats to 48 Republicans to about a 56-42 split, Chapman said.

Wilke, a licensed practical nurse who said she will soon be looking for work, regretted not having a stronger campaign organization in place earlier.

“It all comes down to people being here and people voting,” she said.

Tharinger, who will win his fifth term, said he “hopes things stay pat” on the House Capital Budget Committee, which he chairs, and plans to stay on the House Health Care and Wellness and Appropriations committees.

He was ahead of McEntire in Clallam County by 52 percent-48 percent as of Tuesday and in Jefferson County 69 percent-31 percent as of Wednesday.

He was behind in Grays Harbor County on Tuesday night, 52 percent-48 percent.

Tharinger speculated he’s down in Grays Harbor due to his support of firearms-control Initiative 1639, which passed statewide, including Clallam and Jefferson counties, but lost in Grays Harbor.

Tharinger said the race against McEntire, a former Clallam County commissioner and Port of Port Angeles commissioner, was marked by “a good discussion of the issues.”

McEntire ran against Tharinger in 2010 when it was an open seat and a Red Wave of Republicans took control of the U.S.House of Representatives, unlike this year, when Democrats prevailed.

“That made it tough for Jim this cycle, yet he still ran,” Tharinger said.

“Having gained eight years of experience, it seemed like an odd choice on his part.”

McEntire admitted that running against an incumbent Tharinger made the race a difficult challenge.

He conceded the race in a blanket email by 8:28 p.m. Tuesday, fewer than 30 minutes after ballots were due and soon after the first returns were issued.

Tharinger raised more than McEntire did in campaign funds — $129,000 to McEntire’s $49,000 — which may have played a part, McEntire suggested.

And Tharinger had spent just $79,000 of his war chest as of Tuesday, according to the PDC.

State Republican Party leaders had targeted the rural 24th District for flipping to the GOP and had suggested money would be coming his way.

McEntire did receive $10,000 from the House Republican Organizational Committee but was “expecting a bigger number” from statewide party leaders, he said.

“I got some decent help, but quite frankly, after the primary, the state party and the House Republican Caucus had to defend a lot of their incumbents, so I completely understand where their priorities had to be at that point.”

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected] peninsuladailynews.com.

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