Gov. Chris Gregoire and Secretary of State Sam Reed have certified the 2012 election results, including ballot measures authorizing same-sex marriage and legalizing adult use of marijuana. Reed said the hot ballot propositions helped drove voter turnout to possibly the best in the country this year, 81.25 percent of registered voters.
Voters also were drawn by the vote for president; open seats for governor, attorney general, secretary of state, and state auditor; contests for 10 congressional seats, including a brand new 10thDistrict in Puget Sound country; a U.S. Senate seat; the battle for control of both state House and Senate; other statewide offices; court races; and assorted local government races and propositions.
State certification, the last conducted by the outgoing governor and secretary, was dominated by Referendum 74. Placed on the ballot by foes of the same-sex marriage, the referendum asked voters to affirm or repeal the marriage equality bill that passed the Legislature earlier this year with Gregoire’s strong support. After a campaign that stayed civil, despite the controversy of the issue, the vote was nearly 54 percent to retain the law, Senate Bill 6239. The measure passed in 10 counties, including King by a landslide 67-33 margin.
As if that weren’t enough national attention, the voters also approved, by a lopsided 56-44 margin, Initiative 502 to legalize adult use of marijuana and create a system for regulating and taxing the crop and sales.
At the same time voters were decisively casting socially liberal votes, Washington’s most popular measure was conservative initiative activist Tim Eyman’s I-1185, requiring that taxes passed in Olympia have at least a two-thirds vote in both houses. It drew 64 percent support, restraining the new Democratic governor and Democratic legislative majorities they elected in both houses.
The certified returns showed that Barack Obama and Joe Biden will win the state’s 12 electoral votes next week. They carried the state by 15 points, 56-41, with a pad of about 465,000 votes.
Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., won re-election in a 60-40 landslide. Democrats won three open House seats, including Denny Heck in the new 10th, Suzan DelBene in the 1st and Derek Kilmer in the 6th. All other incumbents won re-election.
For statewide offices, Democrat Jay Inslee won the governor’s mansion, succeeding Gregoire, by 3 points over Republican Rob McKenna. McKenna’s post of attorney general was won by Democrat Bob Ferguson over Republican Reagan Dunn 53-47. Reed’s successor at Secretary of State will be Kim Wyman, who edged Kathleen Drew by less than 1 percentage point in the state’s closest statewide race. Wyman is the only Republican and the only woman elected to statewide executive office this year.
Troy Keller, a Democrat, defeated Republican James Watkins 53-47 for an open seat for state Auditor.
Lt. Gov. Brad Owen, Treasurer Jim McIntire, Land Commissioner PeterGoldmark, and Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler, all Democrats, were easily re-elected. Randy Dorn was re-elected to the nonpartisan post of state superintendent of public instruction without General Election challenge.
Voters installed a female-majority state Supreme Court.
Reed’s pre-election turnout forecast was right on the money – 81 percent. Although many states reported significant falloff from the 2008 levels, Reed said Washingtonians were intrigued by the ballot measures, particularly marriage and marijuana. He noted heavy spending for and against the ballot measures and the hard-fought governor’s race.
Reed also had compliments for campaigns and voters’ handling of potentially divisive issues of gay marriage and marijuana legalization. The civility began in the Legislature’s handling of debate on the same-sex marriage bill, Senate Bill 6239, and the campaign was conducted on a high level, he said.