Local Election

Election 2016: Whatcom County Republicans Buys and Van Werven head back to the House

Rep. Luanne Van Werven, R-Lynden, third from left, and other Donald Trump supporters celebrate as another state is forecast for the GOP candidate during the Whatcom County Republicans’ Election Night party at the Mount Baker Rotary Building on Tuesday Nov. 8, 2016, in Lynden, Wash.
Rep. Luanne Van Werven, R-Lynden, third from left, and other Donald Trump supporters celebrate as another state is forecast for the GOP candidate during the Whatcom County Republicans’ Election Night party at the Mount Baker Rotary Building on Tuesday Nov. 8, 2016, in Lynden, Wash. For The Bellingham Herald

Both Republican incumbents in Whatcom County’s 42nd District races will stay in the state House of Representatives, according to initial ballot counts released Tuesday night.

About 77,600 votes had been tabulated as of 8:28 p.m., with an estimated at least 23,000 ballots still to count, according to the Whatcom County Auditor’s Office.

Luanne Van Werven will continue to her second term in the House after taking 54 percent of the vote, while Democrat Sharlaine LaClair took 46 percent of the early count.

“I am so grateful the voters of Whatcom County are going to send me back to Olympia to continue the work that I’ve done,” Van Werven said.

Van Werven said it was particularly satisfying to do so well in a presidential election year, in which more Democrats were expected to come out and vote, and some Republicans choosing not to vote because they weren’t satisfied with who was at the top of the ticket.

Vincent Buys, who will head into his fourth term in the House, outpaced his Democratic opponent Tracy Atwood by more than 13 percent of the initial tally. Buys had 56.8 percent to Atwood’s 43.2 percent.

“We’re very excited for the results both in our district and we look forward to seeing the results statewide,” Buys said. “We’re going to keep working down in Olympia on issues that are important to Whatcom County.”

Buys was particularly interested to see if Republican Donald Trump and the excitement surrounding the presidential race would bring momentum to Washington state races as well.

“We came into this election 48-50 (Republicans to Democrats) and may have the opportunity to take the state House,” Buys said, noting that there were so many variables it would be hard to tell which direction things were headed Tuesday.

Atwood conceded that Buys had taken the race, and said he had learned a lot during the campaign.

“I got to meet some great people, and really got in touch with my neighbors, which was really a primary focus of the campaign,” Atwood said. “We move on to a new day and come back to fight again.”

The 42nd District’s two House seats often have switched hands from Democrats to Republicans, and Republicans to Democrats, though Republicans have held both seats since 2011.

The district covers most of Whatcom County, excluding south Bellingham and the southwestern corner of the county.

Samantha Wohlfeil: 360-715-2274, @SAWohlfeil

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