Election results: Aug 7 primary, 2018

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Link to our Whatcom County Auditor and the primary election results.

Monday, Aug 13, update - 7 pm - Final Update

Skagit county counted 6,500 remaining ballots today - and still have 1,500 for counting later this week. With today’s count added into the 40th district race, there were no changes, with Democrat Debra Lekanoff facing Republican Michael Petrish in November. You can check the secretary of Washington state election site for the latest totals. With under 1,800 ballots to count, we have a final result.

It now appears that the the surge of Petrish votes on Friday, putting him ahead of Alex Ramel, was due to a big late count in Skagit County. Over all, Petrish got about 15% of the vote in Whatcom and San Juan counties, but 30% in Skagit County. Skagit was just slow in counting ballots.

With this result in the primary, Debra Lekanoff should have an easy win against Michael Petrish in November for the seat being vacated by Democrat Kris Lytton. The drama is over. Young Alex Ramel made an impressive showing in his first election campaign, beating out Rud Browne for 3rd place. Browne spent over $58,000 in his campaign, $10,000 more than either Debra or Alex. Masterful campaign advice by Lisa McShane for Debra, and extremely hard work by Alex.

Saturday comment.

I have learned that there are over 8,000 Skagit County ballots left to count on Monday. Well, that puts a different spin on the results. Any one of the three runners up could end up 2nd to Debra. I’ll watch carefully Monday and update.

Final update, Friday, Aug 10, 6 pm

40th district now has Republican Michael Petrish and Democrat Debra Lekanoff as the probable opponents for the seat Kris Lytton is retiring from. With virtually all ballots counted in all three counties:

Debra Lekanoff - 10,355

Michael Petrish - 7,115

Alex Ramel - 7,029

Rud Browne - 6,916

Petrish gained 372 votes on Ramel between yesterday’s count and today’s. With that unexpected change, there could be another change by the time the election is certified on Tuesday, Aug 21.

I am guessing there are less than 1,000 ballots to count between all three counties that encompass the 40th district. This late surge for the Republican votes will generate discussion by political junkies. How did that happen? How can the tally swing so much in the 4th day of counting ballots? Well, this certainly favors Lekanoff as she can easily win over a Republican in the 40th.


Update Thursday, Aug 9, 5:00 pm

Thursday’s ballot count is in from the auditor.

40th district race for the legislature seat being vacated by Kris Lytton is the race that is still undecided. With parts of three counties voting for this seat, Whatcom County totals are not the full story.

Tallies as of Thursday, 5 pm, from the state secretary of state site.

Debra Lekanoff - 9,727

Alex Ramel - 6,606

Rud Browne - 6,592

Michael Petrish - 6,320

So, what does this mean? The political wisdom is this is one of the few races that may be decided in the primary. If Alex Ramel is second to Debra then it is a real competitive election for November. If Michael is second then Debra will win as the district is so strongly Democratic. If Rud Browne is second then he will win over Debra because he will draw the Republican votes as well as maybe half the Democratic votes. Debra has Lisa McShane on her team and that counts for a lot.

42nd district. Pinky Vargas continues to lead Tim Ballew by 1,500 votes for the right to challenge Doug Ericksen for the state senate. The percentages for all three are the same as yesterday. On Wednesday evening, Tim phoned Pinky and conceded the contest to her, congratulated her and supports her in the general election in November. Between the two of them, they have a solid majority of the votes, enough to beat Ericksen in November. Ericksen self marginalization is probably the cause of this, plus a bit of blue wave as he snuggled up to Trump a bit too much.

For the two legislative seats, Republicans Buys and Van Werven are both trailing their almost unknown Democratic opponents, Justin Boneau and Sharon Shewmake.

I’ve watched the northern Whatcom County since 1978 when we passed the Home Rule Charter for our county. Our rural neighbors vote intelligently every time. They are beholden to neither party, although they tend conservative and thus Republican. But give them a reason to toss out an elected official or vote for an environmental or liberal issue, and they will do it. We learned that with Home Rule which was a revolutionary change for this county, and with 2 of the 3 county commissioners working hard against the adoption. Our rural folks came through to support positive change and gave us our county council and elected executive. It does not surprise me that they are now questioning the value of Ericksen. I do not know enough about the political situation with Buys, who is personally a very fine fellow.


Aug 8, Wed short analysis.

40th district, is unchanged. Still a three way race for second between Alex Ramel, Rud Browne and Michael Petrish. Debra Lekanoff is safely in 1st place. There are over 10,000 ballots still to be counted - maybe closer to 13,000 or more.

42nd district, Pinky Vargas is now well ahead of Tim Ballew and the probable challenger to Ericksen.

We have links in this article to both the Whatcom auditor and the Secretary of State for checking tallys yourself.


10:15 pm and good night. Eve of Tue, Aug 7.

A surprising night. Is it a blue wave? Depends on the definition. The voter turnout is low, but I think that is because of the lack of media coverage. The Herald had next to nothing this summer on candidates. Voters need information so they can vote intelligently. Another definition of a blue wave can simply be voters turning to Democratic Party candidates - and in that sense, yes, we have a blue wave building for this November election. What we sense nation wide of Republicans being frozen like deer in Trump’s headlights, is now rippling down to state levels. All three 42nd district Republicans are being outvoted tonight. Buys and Van Werven by Democrats that are pretty much unknown around the county.

Ericksen will face a serious challenge in November. He has a very real chance of losing. The odds are Pinky Vargas will hold her lead over Tim Ballew and she will bring serious energy to her challenge of Ericksen. She is a winner and works hard to be one. She is her own person and speaks her own mind, not that of anonymous political advisors. And that is what it will take to beat Ericksen.

9:30 pm

Blue wave seems real. Pinky Vargas and Tim Ballew with a combined total of 15,206 are leading Doug Ericksen with 12,847. Tim phoned Pinky a short while ago, not to concede, but to congratulate her on her lead after this first tally and to promise his 100% commitment to her winning if she does beat him into the general election against Ericksen.

How did Pinky do it? Well, a savvy political junkie suggested two reasons. She door belled the county thoroughly. And, second, she got the labor vote. Why? Because Tim Ballew opposed the coal port. Vargas has given labor voters a viable option to Ericksen. I think we can also give some credit to Ericksen for acting so spastic in the last couple years, being a sycophant for Trump, his sneaky endeavors with the EPA and finally his goofy trips to Cambodia.

9:05 pm

40th state legislative district, we have a tossup that may take a couple days to resolve. We go to the state Secretary of State website for these results which include Whatcom, Skagit and San Juan counties.

Debra Lekanoff is definitely in the general election with a first tally of 6,796. Three candidates are close to second and we may not know for days who is the second candidate in the election against Debra. Republican Michael Petrish is second with 4,821, then Rud Browne with 4,616 and Alex Ramel with 4,575. This is a guaranteed Democratic district, so if Michael does finish second then Debra can be expected to be elected.

8:50 pm

County prosecutor. Eric Richey with 20,734 is leading James Erb with 15,025. This will be disappointing for all who are hoping for reform of our county justice system. This is not the showing we hoped for. It will be unusual for Erb to upset Richey in the general.

8:45 pm

Big surprise is Rs Luanne Van Werven and Vincent Buys both coming in second to their D challengers Justin Boneau and Sharon Shewmake. As one very savvy political junkie just tweeted me, there may be a blue wave coming, and this may be like a previous tea party night but with the shoe on the other foot.

8:30 pm

Pinky Vargas with 8,132 votes is leading Tim Ballew with 7,074 for the right to challenge Doug Ericksen with 12,847. Yes, their combined votes are more than Ericksen’s. Is there a chance one of them will beat Ericksen? That will be a hot topic for political junkies for the next three months.

8:16 - tally is posted by Auditor. Check it out. 41,641 ballots counted, 30% of county registered voters.

8:11 pm - no results yet. Expect posting at 8:20.

​8 pm Tuesday, Aug 7

Link to our Whatcom County Auditor and the primary election results.

About John Servais

Citizen Journalist and Editor • Fairhaven, Washington USA • Member since Feb 26, 2008

John started Northwest Citizen in 1995 to inform fellow citizens of serious local political issues that the Bellingham Herald was ignoring. With the help of donors from the beginning, he has [...]

Comments by Readers

Michael Riordan

Aug 09, 2018

I’d like to hear Ralph Schwarzs’ take on these elections, especially the 42nd district. Is he going to write about them?


Tim Paxton

Aug 12, 2018

Does anyone know what software program is used that  counts and reports the generated vote totals?




Michael Riordan

Aug 12, 2018

I don’t know it. But I’ve heard that the great bulk of votes to be counted are in Skagit County , which would favor Petrish over Ramel and Browne and explain his late “surge” and answer John’s most recent question.