Late Tuesday night, Republican Jan Angel had a 770-vote lead over Democrat Nathan Schlicher in the closely-watched race for the 26th District Senate seat.
There was a celebratory mood at Angel’s election night party in Gig Harbor, where she gave a speech to a cheering crowd after the first results showed she had 51 percent of the vote compared to Schlicher’s 49 percent.
“This kind of hope this early on says that the people of Washington and the 26th District are not for sale,” Angel told the crowd.
The race drew national attention and became the most expensive legislative race in state history with combined spending of nearly $3 million, much of it coming from outside interests.
Thomas Steyer, a billionaire hedge-fund manager and environmentalist from California, donated money to a committee that ran attack ads against Angel. A conservative independent committee paid for negative ads against Schlicher, criticizing him for tax votes.
Angel told TVW she didn’t know until Tuesday night how much the outside money would influence voters.
“I’m thrilled that this seat was not allowed to be sold and the will of the people is being heard,” Angel said. “That’s critical. The little 26th District — the voters should own who takes this seat. I’m honored that we have the lead right now to do that.”
At Schlicher’s election night party in Port Orchard, the candidate said he is looking forward to more election results from Kitsap and Pierce counties.
“We’re thrilled that there’s a 700-vote difference with 20,000 votes to go,” Schlicher said. “We knew this would be close — within a point — and that’s where we’ll probably end up. If Kitsap does what it is supposed to do, which is outperform Pierce, then this is going to be a nail biter at the end.”
The outcome will influence the balance of power in the state Senate, where a mostly Republican coalition holds a one-vote majority over Democrats. A victory by Angel would add another vote to the coalition.
More election results are expected after 5 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon.
Watch “The Impact” on Wednesday at 7 & 10 p.m. for updated numbers as well as more reactions from the 26th District, I-522 and I-517 campaigns. The show will also highlight students who participated in the state’s mock election process.