All three incumbents in the 19th Legislative District brought home solid victories Tuesday night. All three stood with roughly 60/40 leads over their challengers.
Sen. Brian Hatfield, D-Raymond, won another term with 62.51 percent of the vote districtwide over Republican Rick Winsman, leading 25,756 to 15,446. In Grays Harbor County, the margin was even wider, with Hatfield earning a little more than 66 percent.
Hatfield watched the results at the Democratic Party Headquarters in Cowlitz County with his fellow 19th District lawmakers, and said he was happy with the margin of victory.
“That feels good with new district lines,” Hatfield said.
“We’ve got that portion of Lewis County now that doesn’t love us yet, but we’re going to work on them,” he added with a laugh.
The election results from the rest of the state and country were also encouraging, Hatfield said. He said his Road Kill Caucus, a group of moderate legislators, were enjoying a swing in their favor.
“The Road Killers, the moderates, we’re going to have a lot more influence in the process,” Hatfield said.
Challenger Rick Winsman, a Republican small business owner, said he was disappointed but not entirely surprised by the result.
“Any time that you challenge an incumbent, particularly one that is relatively popular throughout the district, it’s an uphill battle. It’s probably the most difficult political race you can mount. I just did it out of six years of frustration from working with Brian Hatfield,” Winsman said.
He stopped short of speculating about another run for office, but did commit to maintaining a presence as an advocate in state politics. Winsman said he and his wife, Dee, had made many new friends and enjoyed a lot of support through the campaign, for which he was grateful.
“Words can’t describe how much both Dee and I have appreciated the friendliness we’ve encountered as we’ve travelled across the 19th District,” Winsman said.
Rep. Dean Takko, D-Longview, was re-elected with 61.8 percent of the vote, a margin of 25,249 to 15,591. In Grays Harbor, Takko led with 63.9 percent.
Takko’s response to the results of Tuesday’s vote, locally, state-wide and nationally, was: “It’s a great day to be a Democrat.”
Takko had a strong lead in the primary vote as well, and said the result was about what he expected.
“I’m certainly not disappointed,” he said.
“Now the tough part comes. Legislating is a lot tougher than campaigning, we’ve got some real issues ahead of us,” Takko said. “We’ve got our work cut out for us.”
Dixie Kolditz said she might consider running again after a rest.
“The campaign was great,” she said. “It was a great experience, and I’m so thankful for the support we got and everyone that helped us, and also to congratulate Dean.”
Rep. Brian Blake, D-Aberdeen, won 59.2 percent of the vote, 23,593 to 16,250 over Independent challenger Tim Sutinen. In Grays Harbor, Blake’s lead was 64.6 percent.
“It’s right where we expected to be, given the campaign and the effort,” Blake said Tuesday night. “We knew as an Independent he would attract some votes, so we campaigned hard right up to today.”
Blake was quickly looking ahead to the work of lawmaking, and while big races like the governor are still unsettled, no result is likely to make this year’s budget work any easier.
“Regardless of who the governor is or what the majorities are, this is going to be a tough budget to write,” Blake said. “This is going to be another rough one.”
After a long campaign, Sutinen said, “I’m ready to go skiing. … It was fun while it lasted.”
This marked Sutinen’s third attempt at political office, and on the subject on another run, he said, “Never say never.”
“They say in investing, past performance is no indication of future results,” Sutinen said with a laugh.
Hatfield, Takko and Blake all share a common campaign manager.
“He’s excited tonight, he got three victories,” Hatfield said.