It was a party atmosphere at Geaux Brewery on Tuesday night, loud talk and laughter rising from local Democrats who had gathered in Auburn to watch the early midterm election returns roll in.
And when the next day’s tallies for the 31st District and 47th Legislative District races rolled in, many were smiling still.
As of 4 p.m. Wednesday, challenger Mona Das, D-Covington, had cut incumbent 47th District state Sen. Joe Fain’s already whisker-thin, 274 vote, election night lead to a mere 90, he amassing 22,000 (50.1 percent) to her 21,910 votes (49.9 percent).
If that trend continues, the contest is headed to a certain machine recount.
Machine recounts are required when the vote total difference between two candidates is less than 2,000 votes, and also less than 0.5 percent of the total number of votes cast for both candidates. During a hand recount, staff reviews ballots in teams of two, and hand tallies the votes. Hand recounts are required when the vote total difference between two candidates is less than 150 votes and also less than 0.25 percent of the total number of votes cast for both candidates.
“I feel amazing,” Das said on election night. “I mean, we put everything on the table. We worked as hard as we possibly could. I have zero regrets, and I am hopeful. We did a great job bringing communities together.”
As Fain has done since rape allegations surfaced against him in the waning weeks of the campaign, he declined requests for comment. Indeed, earlier in the day, campaign staff said Fain had not scheduled any public appearances for that evening.
Asked why she did not bring up the allegations during her campaign to unseat Fain, Das came close to bristling.
“I ran a campaign based on what I am about, on my hopes, and my dreams, and my vision for this community, and it didn’t have anything to do with that,” Das said, laying heavy emphasis on each pronoun.
Pat Sullivan, D-Covington, incumbent 47th District representative, continued his insurmountable thumping of his Republican opponent, Ted Cooke of Kent, garnering 27,267 votes, or 62 percent, to Cooke’s 16,525 votes or 37.92 percent.
“I’m always nervous coming in,” Sullivan said Tuesday night. “I think any politician who’s not nervous won’t be around long. You can’t take anything for granted. You have to work for it, and we did that. We went door to door, we put up the yard signs, we raised money, we did mailings, we did all the things you have to do to win a race.”
Sullivan first ran for office in 2002, lost by 90 votes, and since then has waged eight successful campaigns.
As of Wednesday, Debra Entenman, D-Kent, was maintaining her comfortable lead over incumbent 47th District Rep. Mark Hargrove, R-Covington, gathering 23,170 votes, or 52.62 percent, to his 20,859 or 47.38 percent. Hargrove was first elected to the seat in 2011.
In Legislative District No. 33, Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Des Moines, and Rep. Mia Su-Ling Gregerson, D-SeaTac, were winning handily.