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Lower Valley voters stay the Republican course

Bucking a national trend that saw Democrats take control of the U.S. House-and perhaps the Senate-Lower Valley residents voted overwhelmingly yesterday to retain all three 15th District state legislative incumbents.

All three are Republicans.

State Senator Jim Honeyford of Sunnyside defeated challenger Tomas Villanueva of Toppenish in yesterday's general election by nearly a two-to-one margin of 66 percent to 34 percent.

State Representative incumbents Bruce Chandler of Granger and Dan Newhouse of Sunnyside also won by similar two-to-one margins over challengers Glen Pinkham and Bill Yallup, respectively.

"I was gratified for the support and really happy to see Jim and Dan do so well," said Chandler. "It shows we're an effective team."

Chandler said it wasn't surprising that the national trend for Democratic candidates did not play out at the local level.

"I've always felt the effect of national races is not as great on local races," Chandler said. "If you work hard and have a relationship of respect and trust with constituents, I think that's what people are looking for in political leadership."

Newhouse said this morning that he was still absorbing yesterday's win and expressed appreciation for the victory.

Though the local Republican contingent was re-elected to the State legislature, Newhouse said the party will have more work to do in the State house as election results show Democrats widening their lead.

"We'll have to continue our effort to work across the aisle," said Newhouse. "We'll have to continue working on issues with bipartisan appeal."

The most visible of the three local races was probably the State Senate campaign.

Villanueva said he enjoyed the campaign.

"I started late this time," the Democrat said of his first run for political office. "Provided I'm in good health I certainly intend to run again. I plan to stay involved and give it another try or support someone else."

Honeyford could not be reached for comment.

In other races with local impact, Republican Rand Elliott easily won election to the County Commissioner, District 3, seat, and Congressman Doc Hastings (R) held a nearly double-digit lead over challenger Richard Wright.

Though incumbent Maria Cantwell (D) easily retained her U.S. Senate seat over challenger Mike McGavick, the Lower Valley and Yakima County in general went with the Republican McGavick, giving him 52 percent of the local vote.

In statewide ballot measures, voters turned down Initiative 933, which would have allowed land owners to pursue property value claims against municipalities. Voters also vetoed Initiative 920, which would have ended the state's inheritance tax on estates worth more than $2 million or $4 million for couples.

Voters narrowly approved Initiative 937 that requires larger electrical utility providers to seek clean energy sources.

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