Democrat Clyde Shavers has triumphed over Republican incumbent state Rep. Greg Gilday by a narrow margin in a key legislative race that had been too close to call for weeks.
After all ballots were counted, Shavers received 37,375 votes to Gilday’s 37,164, a difference of 211 votes. Tuesday was the deadline for counties to certify the results of the Nov. 8 election.
With Shavers’ win, Democrats have flipped the seat in the 10th Legislative District, extending their majority in the state Legislature. Republicans, meanwhile, have lost another seat in what was a disappointing mid-term election.
The race now heads to a machine recount, though the recount is not expected to change the election result. Under state law, a recount is required when the difference between two candidates is less than 2,000 votes and less than 0.5%. Shavers earned 50.07% of votes to Gilday’s 49.79%, a margin of .28%.
Tuesday’s certification wraps up a tense and consequential race in the 10th District, which includes Island County and parts of Snohomish and Skagit counties. Both parties poured money into the key swing district race.
Democrats had pinned their hopes on political newcomer Shavers to unseat one-term incumbent Gilday. Shavers, a Navy veteran and law school graduate from Oak Harbor, was narrowly leading Gilday on election night by 52.7%.
Gilday, an attorney and real estate agent from Camano Island, chipped away at Shavers’ lead as more ballots were counted. Ultimately, he couldn’t catch up.
A disappointed Gilday accepted the outcome, insisting it might have been different had voters learned sooner of Shavers’ exaggerations about his military record and other aspects of his resume. The allegations were brought up in a letter by Shavers’ own father one week before the election.
“I think that if his lies would have come out a week earlier, it would have been completely different,” Gilday said in an interview Tuesday. “It’s unfortunate he got to lie his way into office.”
In a text message, Shavers said “the final outcome of the election shows that hope and faith is stronger than negativity and tearing others down. I believe that voters came together to walk away from today’s divisive politics and into a kinder, more compassionate future.”
He added he looks forward to serving constituents in the 10th District.
“I will stand up for you and our shared American values, fight for what’s right and fair, and defend our freedoms and liberties within our greater shared community,” he said.
It’s unclear how much of an impact the controversy had on the race. Voters in the 10th District received a barrage of election mailers, with Shavers supporters slamming Gilday for his record on abortion rights and Republicans emphasizing Shavers’ newcomer status in the 10th District.
Shavers won Island and Skagit counties, with about 53.6% and 56.6% of votes, respectively. Gilday took Snohomish County with about 59.1% of votes.
Within the three counties, the candidates’ degrees of success varied by precinct.
Shavers dominated in the South and Central Whidbey Island cities of Langley and Coupeville, according to election return data. But Gilday swept a majority of precincts around Oak Harbor and North Whidbey. Camano Island voters were more split.
In Snohomish County, Gilday won nearly all the precincts, including in Arlington, Stanwood and across rural north Snohomish County.
With the election certified, the recount can get underway. Snohomish County Auditor Garth Fell said the Secretary of State will call for the recount.
“We anticipate hearing from the state sometime in the next three days and meeting with the state to establish a time for the recount,” he said.