Republicans Vincent Buys and Jason Overstreet appeared to be cruising to re-election to their 42nd District State House seats after the first round of ballot-counting Tuesday, Nov. 6.
In a district once known for close races and ticket-splitting, Buys and Overstreet were each getting about 54 percent of votes counted so far.
Matt Krogh, Buys' Democratic challenger, was drawing about 46 percent. So was Natalie McClendon, who ran against Overstreet.
Buys said his campaign organizers figured that the 2012 redistricting shift of about 10,000 Bellingham voters from the 42nd District into the 40th District probably added one and a half to two percentage points to the Republicans' total. But he doesn't think the 42nd has become a district that Republicans can take for granted.
Krogh has been well known in the county for his environmental work with RE Sources for Sustainable Communities, and has been an early and outspoken critic of the Gateway Pacific Terminal coal export pier proposed at Cherry Point.
He congratulated Buys on his apparent win and said he hoped Buys would not ignore the views of the 46 percent of voters who preferred Democrats.
Buys promised not to.
"A lot of the things my office does are outside the legislative session," Buys said, adding that he will continue to try to make everyone feel welcome when they visit his office, no matter their political views.
In his second term, Buys said he would continue to work for legislation to help county berry growers transfer unused water rights to other parcels of land.
In the other 42nd District race, Democrat McClendon didn't try to hide her disappointment.
"I'm disappointed for the 42nd District because we will not have anybody in there fighting to really solve problems. ... He (Overstreet) is not really interested in working with other people to solve problems. He has his own agenda."
Overstreet did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
McClendon advertised herself to district voters as a mainstream moderate. Overstreet is an outspoken right-wing conservative who brandished a pamphlet-sized U.S. Constitution on the campaign trail, and sponsored a "Gold and Silver Legal Tender Act" in the last session of the legislature.
Overstreet also positioned himself far from his own party's mainstream by endorsing Shahram Hadian's unsuccessful primary campaign for governor against Rob McKenna. He also endorsed Ron Paul for president.
In the 40th District races, incumbents got no more than a light workout as they campaigned to keep their state House and Senate seats.
State Rep. Jeff Morris, D-Mount Vernon, overwhelmed Green Party challenger Howard Pellett of Guemes Island. Initial counts Tuesday had Morris leading 77 to 23 percent. Morris, the incumbent, won his ninth term in the state House for the 40th District, which includes south Bellingham and southwest Whatcom County, as well as San Juan County and part of Skagit County.
The race for Senate in the 40th District also went to the Democrat. One-term incumbent Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, was far ahead of John Swapp of Anacortes 63 to 37 percent. Swapp filed as "Independent/GOP."
Kristine Lytton, D-Anacortes, will advance to her second term in the House for the 40th District. Brandon Robinson was listed on the ballot as her opponent, but he withdrew from the race.