Republicans move ahead in 2 close races

Two Republicans candidates have overcome their Election Day deficits to move past their rivals.

Two Republicans candidates have overcome their Election Day deficits to move past their rivals in races affecting Whidbey Island voters, though margins remain razor thin.

State Rep. Greg Gilday, a Camano Island Republican, inched ahead of challenger Clyde Shavers, an Oak Harbor Democrat, in the Monday night vote count. Legislative District 10 covers Island County as well as parts of Skagit and Snohomish counties.

After the Monday night count, Gilday is ahead by just 15 votes, which is a difference of 0.02%. Gilday has 34,940 votes and Shavers has 34,925.

In the race for Island County assessor, Kelly Mauck, a Camano Island Republican, surged ahead of T.J. Kubisiak, an Oak Harbor resident running without a party affiliation. Mauck has 50.2% of the vote while Kubisiak has 49.8%. Just 146 votes divide them.

Rep. Dave Paul, an Oak Harbor Democrat, lost some ground against Republican Karen Lesetmoe, also an Oak Harbor resident, but his lead remains strong. He has 51.9% of the vote and she has 48%.

The hiccup in the reporting of interim voting results caused some confusion Monday night as the Island County elections office reported its latest count, but the state’s website did not reflect that, making it appear that Shavers was still ahead. The Secretary of State office reported that the download from Island County “did not complete” Monday night and was redone Tuesday morning.

The phenomenon of votes trending toward Republicans in later counts is nothing new. Two years ago, Gilday and Republican state Sen. Ron Muzzall were both behind after the Election Day count, but ended up winning.

Gilday said he’s heard a lot of different reasons from his supporters on why they tend to complete their mail-in ballots at the last minute. Some people want to keep the tradition of voting on Election Day while others feel that there is less chance their ballots will be “messed with.”

Gilday, however, said he has always urged his supporters to vote right away.

“I tell them if for no other reason, do it for me. Don’t put me through this again,” he said.

Both Gilday and Shavers said they like their chances. Gilday said he’s been confident that he would ultimately prevail since the first count. He said he believes the trend in later votes favoring him will continue in subsequent counts.

Shavers isn’t so sure.

“From day one we knew this was going to be a very close race, so we’re not surprised by the current numbers,” Shavers said. “We’re very optimistic about the outcome given that most of the remaining ballots are from Island and Skagit counties.”

Paul credits communication for his strong showing. Unlike two years ago, in the midst of the pandemic, Paul was able to get out and doorbell within the district. He knocked on about 4,000 doors, which included many people in the Arlington area who are new to District 10 because of redistricting.

Only time and counting will tell whether either the assessor or District 10 legislative race will go to a recount. Under state law, a recount is mandatory if the difference in the number of votes cast for the apparent winner and rival is less than 150 votes and also less than one-fourth of 1% of the total number of votes cast for both candidates.

Island County estimated Monday night that 1,100 ballots are left to count. It’s impossible to know how many ballots are left in Skagit and Snohomish counties since District 10 covers only a portion of those counties.