Long-time Washington incumbents facing tight races in November election

Aug 13, 2020, 2:58 PM | Updated: Aug 14, 2020, 10:59 am
November election, Frank Chopp...
Democrat Frank Chopp could be in for a fight to retain his seat in the state Legislature. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

While much of the collective focus of Washington state has been trained on the gubernatorial race, there are several other races at lower levels that could soon see a handful of incumbents facing a rocky road to reelection in November.

Early Primary election results may indicate tough competition to come

First we have Rep. Frank Chopp’s race to retain his 43rd District seat, having served as the Democratic Speaker for the Washington State House of Representatives since 2002. Chopp was first elected in 1995, and while no Republicans rose to unseat him in August’s Primary election, he’ll soon face off with Seattle People’s Party candidate Sherae Lascelles.

Chopp pulled in just under 50% of the vote in the August Primary, and in November. Lascelles, who garnered 31% of the Primary vote, has spent much of her career working in the nonprofit sector, having founded the People of Color Sex Worker Outreach Program and the Green Light Project. She’s also endorsed by local activist and former Seattle mayoral candidate Nikkita Oliver.

The third highest vote-getter in the 43rd District Primary was Jessi Murray at just over 18%. That also roughly equals the Primary gap between Chopp and Lascelles, making for a potentially tight race in November between the 25-year incumbent and the relative newcomer.

Facing an even closer race in November will be seven-year 28th District incumbent Steve O’Ban. O’Ban, a Republican, first assumed office as a state senator in 2013. With most votes now counted, he actually trails his Democratic challenger, Twina Nobles, by a razor-thin 50.2% to 49.6% margin in the Primary election. In total, the two candidates are separated by just over 250 votes.

Nobles has endorsements from Sen. Patty Murray, as well as Congressmen Derek Kilmer, Denny Heck, and Adam Smith. She’s also endorsed by a handful of union groups across Washington, the Alliance for Gun Responsibility, and The Urbanist.

O’Ban has been a longtime critic of Sound Transit, having floated a Brexit-like plan to remove Pierce County from the Regional Transit Authority.

At the Congressional level, Democratic incumbent Kim Schrier could be facing a tough road ahead, after having served just one term representing Washington’s 8th District. Schrier pulled in just over 43% of the vote in the August Primary (coincidentally, the same percentage former District 8 challenger Dino Rossi accrued in the Primary before losing to Schrier in 2018’s general election).

Full election results from the August Primary

The next highest vote total was for Republican Jesse Jensen at 20%. Combined, Republican candidates totaled 49% of the vote, setting the stage for a close race in the months to come.

Jensen is a military veteran and former Army Ranger, having served on four combat tours. He’s endorsed by former Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna, as well as Congressmen Dan Crenshaw (Texas), Mike Gallagher (Wisconsin), and Mike Waltz (Florida).

Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal is also in a close race to retain his role, pulling in 40% of the vote in the August Primary. He’ll face off against Maia Espinoza in November’s general election, who garnered 25.2% of the vote.

Both Espinoza and fellow superintendent candidate Ron Higgins have been vocal about their opposition to Reykdal’s recently-approved comprehensive sex education curriculum. Espinoza and Higgins combined for over 45% of the vote, leaving the door open for a general election challenge for the four-year incumbent.


A previous version of this article listed Sherae Lascelles as a Democrat. It has been amended to reflect that she represents the Seattle People’s Party.

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Long-time Washington incumbents facing tight races in November election