Democrat Mark Mullet claims lead in state Senate bout

November 6, 2012

By Warren Kagarise

Mark Mullet embraces wife Sabath at Zeeks Pizza on election night moments after initial results give him a lead in the race against Brad Toft for the 5th Legislative District’s state Senate seat. By Greg Farrar

UPDATED — 9:25 p.m. Nov. 6, 2012

The unexpectedly ugly race to represent Issaquah in the state Senate neared a coda Tuesday as Democrat Mark Mullet claimed a lead in initial results.

Mullet claimed about 54 percent — or 21,061 votes — to the 46 percent — or 18,024 votes — for Republican Brad Toft.

“I want to help the Democratic Party understand business issues better,” Mullet said just before King County Elections released results at about 8:15 p.m. “That would be where I add all the value.”

Mullet and supporters gathered at Zeeks Pizza, not far from the candidate’s Issaquah Highlands home, to await the initial results. Toft joined other GOP candidates at the Bellevue Hyatt for the party’s election night celebration.

The race turned increasingly bitter in the closing weeks, as Democrats seized on Toft’s past legal troubles and Republicans attempted to link Mullet to a deal between Gov. Chris Gregoire and former state Sen. Cheryl Pflug to claim the seat for the Democrats.

The contest attracted statewide attention, as the candidates’ differences in style and substance came out in competing campaign mailers, TV spots and endorsements.

The ballot deadline came days after U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell stumped for Mullet in Issaquah.

In the district’s contested race for a state House of Representatives seat, Republican Chad Magendanz cruised to election against Democrat David Spring.

Issaquah is divided between the 5th Legislative District — a combination of suburban and rural areas stretched from Maple Valley to Snoqualmie Pass — and the 41st Legislative District, a suburban swath stretched from Mercer Island to Sammamish.

In the initial results released Tuesday, incumbent candidates led in the 41st District contests.

Steve Litzow, a freshman Republican state senator from Mercer Island, outpaced Mercer Island Democrat Maureen Judge. Litzow garnered about 54 percent — or 22,168 votes — to 46 percent — or 19,253 votes — for Judge.

Scott Roberts, citizen action network director at the Freedom Foundation, a public-policy think tank based in Olympia, said Litzow learned the district during a failed state House run in 2008 and a successful state Senate race in 2010.

Renton Democrat Marcie Maxwell, a state representative elected in 2008 and re-elected in 2010, cruised to a commanding lead against Issaquah Republican Tim Eaves, a novice candidate. Maxwell clinched 58 percent — or 24,000 votes — to Eaves’ 42 percent — or 17,242 votes.

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