PORT TOWNSEND – Stopping short of declaring victory, incumbent state Rep. Mike Chapman said Wednesday he’s confident his lead will hold and thanked challenger Sue Forde, calling her a “worthy opponent.”
“She worked really hard, and she had a lot of people vote for her,” the two-term Democrat from Port Angeles said of his opponent in the general election race for the 24th Legislative District, Position 1, seat.
“She made me a better candidate. Iron sharpens iron, and competition of ideas is a great thing in our democracy.”
Forde, a Sequim resident and business owner who serves as chair of the Clallam County Republican Party, said she would wait to see the remaining votes before conceding.
“You know what they say: It’s not over until it’s over,” she said. “There are still a lot of votes to count, especially in Clallam. So I’m going to wait and see what happens.”
Just the same, Chapman said he wouldn’t declare victory until the election is certified on Nov. 24.
“I fully expect it to tighten up a little bit,” he said. “We need to wait for all the ballots to be counted. I will win when the election is certified.”
Chapman and Forde advanced to the general election following a three-way primary race that included Port Hadlock truck driver Daniel Charles Svoboda.
The district covers Clallam and Jefferson counties and part of Grays Harbor County.
Both Chapman and Forde said the coronavirus pandemic forced them to change the ways they might normally campaign. Community festivals and parades were canceled throughout the district, and social-distancing guidelines limited the candidates’ in-person interactions with voters.
“It was a different type of campaign than we’ve ever experienced before,” said Forde, who opted to campaign door-to-door while maintaining a safe distance.
“I think we’ve done pretty well considering a first run against a longstanding, well-funded incumbent in light of that lockdown.”
Chapman said he decided not to do his usual door-to-door campaigning, which brought criticism that he wasn’t listening to his constituents.
“I didn’t feel comfortable going and knocking on someone’s door with a mask around my face saying, ‘Hey, I want your vote,’ ” he said.
“I think it was the right approach for public safety, but that’s not who I am. I am not someone who doesn’t want to be engaged with the public.”
Forde said she’s grateful for everyone who has volunteered their time and donated to her campaign, which brought in $55,203 as of last Thursday compared with Chapman’s $171,242.
Looking ahead to the 2021 legislative session, Chapman said the challenge will be creating a budget with less revenue and without looking to fill the gap with new sources of revenue.
“The right approach is rebuilding our economy,” he said, “making sure our public health system is in place so people can stay safe and healthy, and then the revenue will come with a strengthened, growing economy like we had prior to COVID in this state and in this district.”
Jefferson County senior reporter Nicholas Johnson can be reached by phone at 360-417-3509 or by email at [email protected].