Trial lawyer Jack Connelly smashed campaign spending records, but it was six-term state Rep. Jeannie Darneille who cashed in at the ballot box Tuesday.
Darneille was thrashing her fellow Democrat by double digits in the race for the 27th Legislative District Senate seat representing north, east and central Tacoma.
Im very humbled by the outpouring of support during this campaign, Darneille said late Tuesday. And Im very emboldened to continue to work very hard for the 27th District.
Tacomas Senate contest headlined a night of wide margins in South Sound legislative races, including several match-ups that turned into laughers.
Democrat Dawn Morrell held a comfortable lead in the 25th District House race, Jake Fey scored an easy win in the run-off for the open 27th District House seat and Republican Steve OBan cruised in his House bid in the 28th. In the 30th District, Democrat Roger Freeman appeared to oust incumbent Republican Katrina Asay.
Meantime, several legislative races across Washington were still too close to call, leaving the balance of partisan power in Olympia potentially at play.
In Tacoma, Darneilles wide lead nearly replicated her 16-point handling of Connelly in Augusts two-candidate primary.
Connelly poured in almost $1 million of his own money more than half of it since the primary during his record-setting self-financing for a Washington legislative contest. Much of his money went to a barrage of TV spots and mailers attacking Darneilles 12-year voting record as a state representative that Connelly blasted as soft on crime.
Darneille countered with a largely positive campaign touting her record as a champion of health and social issues. She also distinguished herself as more in step with the districts liberal-leaning voters on key social issues. Darneille favors same sex marriage and abortion rights; Connelly opposes both.
In the 27th Districts race for the Position 2 House seat, what promised to be a battle turned into a drubbing, as Fey cruised in landslide fashion over fellow Democrat Lauren Walker. The race pitted two well-liked, second-term Tacoma City Council members vying for the seat Darneille is leaving.
Fey, who bested Walker by just six points in the primary, said even he was overwhelmed by his showing. He attributed his win to a well-run campaign that made 30,000 phone calls and knocked on 20,000 doors.
We worked very, very hard, Fey said. ... And it makes a difference.
In the 27th's other House race, incumbent first-term Democrat Rep. Laurie Jinkins coasted to re-election over Republican Steven T. Cook.
In the 25th District, Morrell held a comfortable lead over Republican Shelly Schlumpf in the expensive Puyallup-centric House race. For Morrell, a registered nurse who served in the House from 2003-2010, it was a bid to return to Olympia after a two-year absence.
Morrell said she was cautiously optimistic that early trends would hold, recognizing she led in early voting two years ago but lost by 29 votes.
Voters also returned freshman Rep. Hans Zeiger for a second term in the House. Zeiger, who bested Morrell two years ago, easily beat first-time candidate and Democrat Bill Hilton, a retired Washington State Patrol captain.
Bruce Dammeier, a two-term Republican state representative and former Puyallup school board member, won big over Democrat Eric Herde, a Tacoma Metro Parks lifeguard, in the race for the Senate seat vacated by unsuccessful secretary of state candidate Jim Kastama.
In the 28th District, Republican Steve OBan held a big lead over Eric Choiniere, a Democrat and University Place city councilman, for the open House seat vacated by state auditor candidate Troy Kelley, who was leading Tuesday.
Were encouraged, and if we win this thing it will be a great team effort, OBan said Tuesday.
For a second consecutive election, Lakewood Democrat Tami Green beat her Republican opponent Paul Wagemann, a Clover Park school board member, for a fifth term.
Republican Sen. Mike Carrell also will remain a fixture in Olympia. The longtime state lawmaker, who was first elected in 1995, easily won a third term in the upper chamber against Yoshie Wong, a Steilacoom school board member.
IN OTHER CONTESTS
First-term Republican Sen. Randi Becker toppled Democrat and former Eatonville School Board member Bruce Lachney in the bid for Senate in the 2nd District, which stretches from rural Lacey into eastern Pierce County.
In the districts only contested House race, Republican Gary Alexander cruised to a win over Democrat Greg Hartman. Alexander, a state representative for the 20th District since 1997, was redistricted into the 2nd earlier this year.
In the districts other House contest, freshman Republican J.T. Wilcox ran unopposed to win re-election for the Position 2 seat.
Democratic Rep. Larry Seaquist, a former battleship commander, won his bid for a fourth House term. Seaquists victory on Tuesday was his second against Doug Richards, a fire battalion chief and former sailor. The district represents the Gig Harbor peninsula and a portion of Kitsap County.
In the other House race, Republican incumbent Jan Angel trounced Democratic challenger Karin Ashabraner, a middle school teacher and union officer.
First-time candidate and Democrat David Sawyer clobbered three-time Republican candidate Terry Harder in the race for the 29th Districts Position 1 House seat, which represents South Tacoma, the South End and parts of Parkland, Spanaway and Fredrickson.
Sawyer, 29, a clerk for former Pierce County Executive John Ladenburgs law firm, will fill the seat vacated by his boss wife, first-term Democrat Rep. Connie Ladenburg, who opted to run for the Pierce County Council.
What promised to be two competitive House races in the district representing parts of South King County, Milton and Pacific didnt disappoint, with a Republican holding the edge in one race, and a Democrat leading in the other.
For the open seat being vacated by Mark Miloscia, Republican Federal Way City Councilwoman Linda Kochmar led Democrat Roger Flygare, who owns a court reporting business. With the early King County vote nearly split, Pierce County voters were tilting more for Kochmar.
In the 30th Districts other House contest, Asay, the former Milton mayor and freshman Republican was losing her re-election bid against Freeman, a Democratic lawyer and former Federal Way city councilman.
Voters returned moderate Democrat and Rep. Christopher Hurst to Olympia for a second term. He defeated Republican candidate Lisa Connors, an Auburn School Board member.
For the districts other House seat, voters elected incumbent Republican Rep. Cathy Dahlquist to a second term over Democrat Brian Gunn.