Republicans are poised to occupy all three 19th District legislative seats, with Republican Jeff Wilson of Longview leading the way with a decisive victory over incumbent Sen. Dean Takko, D-Longview. One of the House races is too close to call, but the Republican candidate was leading after the first count on Tuesday.
Incumbent Republican Jim Walsh of Aberdeen was easily re-elected in the 19th District Position 1 State Representative race, and Joel McEntire, a Republican from Cathlamet, held the advantage Tuesday over incumbent Aberdeen Democrat Brian Blake in the Position 2 State Representative race.
In initial vote counting districtwide Tuesday, Wilson garnered 31,141 votes, 53.35%, over Takko’s 27,168, 46.54%. In Grays Harbor County, the vote was split just about down the middle, with Takko holding a slight edge over Wilson, 6,286-6,197.
The districts includes all or parts of Grays Harbor, Cowlitz, Lewis, Pacific and Wahkiakum counties, with most of the voters in Cowlitz.
Asked how he felt about the first night’s count, Takko said, “I’m feeling like I probably lost, seeing as how I’m down by 4,000 votes.”
Several factors, he believes, led to his loss.
“Across the district there were a number of things that came into play,” said Takko. “First of all, I voted for the comprehensive sex education bill, and they just hammered away on me with that.”
Despite its possible impact on his re-election bid, Takko has no regrets for his vote on the controversial bill.
“It was the right vote, and I will never take back the fact I voted the way I did on that,” said Takko. “It’s about protecting children, it’s not about teaching sex to kids.”
He said the 19th District was upset by the lockdowns and closures imposed by Democrat Gov. Jay Inslee in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“They asked, why are we locked up when we don’t have that much COVID,” said Takko. “Well, the reason we did not have a lot of COVID is because we were locked up like we were.”
The labor vote that helped make Grays Harbor County and the 19th in general such a stronghold for Democrats for many years has diminished, which has also led to a switch toward favoring Republican candidates, said Takko.
“We don’t have the labor vote we used to have,” he said. “Lots of mills have closed down, and in my end of the district the aluminum plant had 900-some union members, and the big pulp mills because of automation don’t have a lot of union labor.”
Position 2 State Representative
McEntire held a 51%-48.91% district-wide advantage over longtime incumbent Blake, D-Aberdeen, 30,967-29,698, after Tuesday’s count. Among Grays Harbor County voters, it was Blake who had the advantage with just under 53.5% of the vote.
“I’m feeling pretty confident right now,” said McEntire, saying that in the 19th the votes that are counted after the first round tend to favor Republican candidates. He campaigned aggressively in Grays Harbor County and across the district, but said that wasn’t so much a political strategy, but “just his personality” to get out and have face-time with the people of the district.
“It’s election night and you know the drill,” said Blake. “The returns come in, trickle in over the next week or so, and let’s let the votes be counted and see how things go.”
Blake noted that he “performed well” in his home county of Grays Harbor, and also in Pacific County, “but it was a little tougher on the south end of the district,” he said.
“We knew it was going to be tight, and it certainly is,” said Blake.
Position 1 State Representative
In the House Position 1 race Walsh was to a third term, with 57.7% of the districtwide vote – 35,001 votes — Tuesday night. His challenger, Democrat Marianna Everson of Montesano, came in with 25,583 votes, 42.18%, after the first count. In Grays Harbor County voting, Walsh took a 54.61% to 45.3% advantage over Everson Tuesday night.