Early voting results from the Nov. 7 election in the Washington state 45th Legislative District are showing Democrat Manka Dhingra with a 10-point lead over Republican candidate Jinyoung Lee Englund.
Dhingra had roughly 55.4 percent of the vote, with Englund holding around 44.5 percent as of Wednesday afternoon.
With this victory, Democrats are poised to hold majorities in the state Senate, House of Representatives and own the Governor’s office. Together with California and Oregon, the three states are now part of what is being described as a West Coast “Blue Wall,” with all three states under Democratic control.
While the House was controlled by Democrats, Republicans had previously held a one-vote majority in the state Senate. Other Senate races that were up for election were held in relatively safe districts, so the balance of power was decided by voters in the 45th district.
“It feels really great,” Dhingra said on Wednesday. “I think it actually really speaks volumes to the message and the campaign that we had.”
Dhingra, a King County prosecuting attorney, has lived in the district for 20 years, and said this connection to the community helped propel her to an electoral victory.
Her top priorities in Olympia will include passing a capital budget, which she said Senate Republicans have blocked in the past.
She also hopes to pass legislation ensuring access to birth control, implementing gun control to keep guns away from violent offenders and finding a way to fully fund K-12 education that doesn’t rely on property taxes.
As far as the “Blue Wall” goes, Dhingra said she hopes to work together with Legislatures in the other two states on environmental and health-care issues.
Tina Podlodowski, Washington State Democrats chair, said she views the results in the 45th district as being in part a reaction to national politics and the Trump administration’s actions.
“We have now become the last brick in the big ‘Blue Wall’ here on the West Coast standing against all the dangerous policies we’re seeing out of Donald Trump’s administration,” she said.
Podlodowski said state Democrats will be focusing on improving the lives of working families in the state.
In addition to many of the policies outlined by Dhingra, Podlodowski said state Democrats will be looking at affordable housing, increasing access to mental health and combating the opioid epidemic.
With the Democrat’s victory, the party now has a chance to steer the state in their direction.
Washington State Republican Party Chair Susan Hutchinson said while they have diminished power in Olympia, they are looking toward the next election.
“I think 2018 is going to be an exciting year for us,” she said.
Hutchinson said many of the policies she thinks Democrats could implement, like a capital gains or carbon tax, could prove to be unpopular with state voters.
All the state House seats and half of the Senate seats, including in the 45th, will be up for election next year.
But for now, Dhingra said she is excited for the coming legislative session.
She plans on defending her seat again in 2018.
The 45th district Senate seat has been held by a Republican since former Sen. Andy Hill beat Democrat Eric Oemig in 2010.
Hill, who successfully defended the seat in 2014, died last year following a battle with lung cancer.
Republican Dino Rossi was selected to serve in the position until this election. Rossi did not seek election for the seat and instead will be running for Congress in the 8th District.
This election was the most expensive Legislative election in state history, with the Seattle Times pegging the amount spent on the race numbering at least $8.5 million.