Local Election

Ericksen beats Fleetwood in race for 42nd state Senate seat

After running in one of the most expensive legislative contests in Whatcom County history, Republican Doug Ericksen will keep his 42nd District seat in the state Senate.

Early election results Tuesday night, Nov. 4 showed Ericksen had 59 percent of the vote, while his Democratic challenger, Seth Fleetwood had 41 percent.

The race was one of three apparent victories for Republicans in the county as Luanne Van Werven and Vincent Buys also took the lead in their 42nd Legislative District races.

The mood was high among Whatcom Republicans celebrating the results of the early count at Bellingham Country Club Tuesday night.

Ericksen said the vote was a clear message from Whatcom voters.

“I think it’s a mandate we need to stand up for Whatcom County values,” Ericksen said. “They told us what they want, and now we’ve got to deliver.”

Meanwhile, at the Whatcom Democrats’ election night gathering at the Mt. Baker Theatre, Fleetwood was dialing his phone to call Ericksen and congratulate him.

“It was a hard-fought race on both sides,” Fleetwood said. “I’m very proud of my campaign team, they worked really hard every day. ... I thought we put forward a lot of important ideals, including the need to better fund public education, (and) the ideal of working to find common ground so we can make progress.”

The race between Ericksen and Fleetwood saw huge spending in recent weeks from independent political committees that bombarded voters with television, radio and Internet advertisements, political fliers and phone calls.

As of Tuesday afternoon, reports filed with the Public Disclosure Commission showed Fleetwood supporters and his campaign had spent more than $868,000 to get him elected. At the same time his opponents had spent more than $301,000 on independent advertising to convince voters he was not right for the job.

Meanwhile, Ericksen’s PDC reports showed his supporters and campaign had spent more than $466,000 to help him keep his seat. His opponents had reported spending about $50,000 on independent advertising to turn voters against Ericksen.

That puts the total amount spent on this single legislative race at about $1.69 million, and more spending reports still could be filed.

The 42nd competition is one of a handful of races throughout the state where Democrats hoped to take hold so they could again control both houses of the Legislature. Before the last session, there were technically more Democrats than Republicans elected to the 49-member Senate, but two Democrats formed a Majority Coalition Caucus with 24 Republicans.

The 42nd legislative district encompasses most of Whatcom County except for south Bellingham and the southwest part of the county. Election results will be certified later this month.

In a quick victory speech to the Republicans at the country club, Ericksen told the crowd to, “Hold our feet to the fire. The hard work starts tomorrow.”