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Bob Ferguson: I’m not surprised by results from 45th District

Manka Dhingra supporters hear initial election results that favor the Democratic candidate, Nov. 7, 2017. (Hanna Scott)

It looks like Democrats could take control of the state Legislature with a win in the 45th District. The first results from the special election favor Manka Dhingra 55 percent of the vote.

RELATED: City of Seattle election results

As it has been the most expensive race in state history and will decide the balance of power in Olympia, all eyes have been on the race for the 45th Legislative District.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson says he is not surprised by the results in the because, “I felt it was going to be a big Democratic year, we saw that in Virginia and we are seeing that here. I thought we had the better candidate and I think she had the better message, and you put that combination together and the results are usually good.”

Republicans were fighting to hold on to their one vote majority in the state Senate, while Democrats were hoping to win the 45th and take control of both chambers of the Legislature.

National eyes are also on the race in the 45th, where a win for the Democrats would create a party stronghold along the West Coast — some are calling it a Long Blue Wall. Democrats already control the governor’s office in Washington, Oregon and California and both chambers of the legislatures in Oregon and California. Washington state is the only one among the three where Republicans still have control of the Senate, and a win for the Democrats in the 45th would wipe that out giving them power in all three West Coast states.

Washington’s 45th District

The special election in the 45th District, which includes Kirkland, Duvall, Sammamish, Woodvinville and Redmond, is to fill the seat of late Republican Senator Andy Hill, who passed away last year.

Hill’s widow and his Republican base have thrown their support behind newcomer Jinyoung Lee Englund, a 33-year-old Republican, who is married to a Marine and has worked as a staffer for Republican Congresswoman Cathy McMorris-Rodgers and Dino Rossi. Englund says not to let her party affiliation fool you. She did not vote for President Trump, believes climate change is human caused, and supports some new gun regulations, including a ban on bump stocks.

If Dhingra’s lead holds, Englund says she hopes Dhingra will do her best to represent everyone and that if the Legislature in Olympia is held by one party control that they actual govern which Englund says, “means that they work with Republicans instead of against them.”

Dhingra is a 43-year-old King County Prosecutor who has worked to help domestic violence survivors, veterans and those with mental health issues. State Republicans have warned if she wins it will lead to more taxes, because Democrats have never met a tax they didn’t like. Not so, says Dhingra, who says she does not support a state income tax and that there is “no way” it will ever happen.

Englund is also against a state income tax. Our state is one of seven without a state income tax, Englund says, “it makes us competitive, right? It expands, it creates opportunities for people.”

Both support some type of car tab relief for taxpayers dealing with huge increases after the passage of ST3. Dhingra says the $54 billion light rail expansion is a necessity, especially in her district on the Eastside. The people want it, businesses want it, she says. However, Dhingra says, she supports changing the vehicle valuation system being used to calculate car tab fees. That system has skyrocketed fees since the passage of ST3. Dhingra supports using something more like Kelly Blue Book to calculate car tab fees.

Englund says that’s not enough because, she says, the problem with ST3 is people feel deceived. If she’s elected, Englund says she hopes to pass bi-partisan legislation that not only changes the vehicle valuation system, but also gets people immediate relief through refunds, and cutting the ST3 tax increase, which jumped from .3 percent to 1.1 percent with the passage of ST3. Englund wants to lower that to .5 percent.

Englund says people in her district feel betrayed on many issues, including a King County judge’s ruling that blocked voters from weighing in on I-27, an initiative that would ban safe injection sites in King County.

King County wants to open two sites, one in Seattle, one elsewhere in the county. Several cities, including Sammamish, have already banned them, but others in the 45th District are concerned, Englund says. There are large parts of her district, Englund says, that are unincorporated King County, which means they don’t have a city council to vote to ban the sites. She does not support safe injection sites and believes more treatment centers with services to deal with the opioid crisis.

Dhingra supports the sites, but takes issue with them being referred to as safe injection sites, a name she says has been highly politicized. The correct term, Dhingra says, is Community Health Engagement Locations. Either way she insists none of the sites are coming to the Eastside, Dhingra says, “that’s not going to happen.” But Dhingra says she supports the judge blocking I-27 from going to the ballot, because the opioid crisis is a public health issue that should be left to public health officials.

Democrat Dhingra took the win in the August primary, with 52 percent of the vote compared to Englund’s 41 percent. Polling headed into the Nov. 7 election has shown similar results.

Regardless of which candidate wins once votes are made official, the 2017 special election for the 45th District will go down as the most expensive race in state history, with nearly $9 million raised by the two candidates or spent by independent political committees.

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