It appears that Democrats will hold on to the 47th Legislative District Senate seat as Claudia Kauffman continues to lead Kent Republican Bill Boyce.
Kauffman leads with 52.87% (17,466 votes) of the vote compared to Boyce with 46.98% (15,431 votes), according to King County Elections on Thursday, Nov. 10. King County Elections will release new counts weekdays as more ballots are counted until the count is certified Nov. 29.
“I’m super excited about the results,” Kauffman said during a phone interview Tuesday night. “I’m thrilled that voters put their trust in me.”
Kauffman, of Kent, held the Senate seat from 2007 to 2010 prior to losing to Auburn Republican Joe Fain in 2010.
“We did the hard work and our message resonated with voters,” said Kauffman, who added her campaign knocked on thousands of doors and met with a lot of people. “We are here for the working families.”
The 47th District includes all of Covington and parts of Kent and Auburn.
Despite the early deficit, Boyce, president of the Kent City Council, remained confident.
“We knew that it was going to be Democrat votes early,” Boyce said in a phone interview. “There are still lots of votes to be counted. It’s still reachable. We’ll know more in the next few days.”
Boyce said historically Democrats vote first and Republicans last.
“We’re not giving up yet,” he said.
On Thursday, Nov. 10, Boyce posted on Facebook that the counting continues.
“I want to be clear that these numbers do fluctuate,” Boyce said. “(Wednesday) there were roughly 10,000 ballots to be counted. We are now at 21,000 ballots. The King County Elections Department continues to update its website with voter turnout, and we have seen an increase due to citizens dropping their ballots off at a drop-off box on Election Day. The results will continue to come in, and we will update you all as we can.”
Kauffman liked how the numbers look.
“I know they’re still counting,” she said. “But this is a strong indication about how the next votes continue to go.”
In one of the most expensive legislative races this year, the two candidates combined raised nearly $1 million as the Republicans aimed to regain the seat while the Democrats tried to retain the position. Boyce has raised $531,120 and spent $512,293, according to the state Public Disclosure Commission. Kauffman has raised $413,674 and spent $390,374.
Boyce, a former Kent School Board member, ran his first statewide race in an effort to get the position back to Republicans.
Boyce and Kauffman are running to replace Kent Democrat Mona Das, who decided not to seek reelection after four years in office. Das narrowly defeated Auburn Republican Joe Fain in 2018 with 50.79% of the vote.
The campaign included a controversy between Boyce and Kauffman about an email Kauffman sent to her supporters that connected Boyce to the Lynnwood-based Family Policy Institute of Washington. Kauffman called the group “an extremist organization that opposes abortion rights and marriage equality.”
Boyce denied the connection and a supporter of his filed a complaint against Kauffman with the state Public Disclosure Commission for an alleged false endorsement and making false ideological assumptions about a candidate and sharing them as fact.
Specific differences loomed between the two about the gas tax, police reform and the long-term care tax. Those differences emerged between Boyce and Kauffman during their Oct. 24 debate in Renton.
Boyce wants to suspend the state’s 49 cents per gallon gas tax to help people combat higher prices. Kauffman said the tax is needed to fund transportation projects.
In addition to the state gas tax, the two candidates differed on police reform laws adopted by the Legislature. Kauffman agreed with the changes, including a limit on police pursuits. Boyce said the changes went too far.
A question about the state’s long-term care tax split Boyce and Kauffman as well. The program is on hold, but essentially a mandatory payroll tax on workers would be used to fund a lifetime limit of $36,500 to help pay for long-term care.
Kauffman said she supported the program and that it’s a smart plan to look at long-term care. Boyce wants to repeal the tax.
Boyce won the August primary with 45.54% (13,734 votes). Kauffman earned the other spot in the general election with 27.26% (8,222 votes) as she defeated Kent Democrat Satwinder Kaur by 65 votes. Kaur, a Kent City Council member, had 27.05% (8,157 votes).