Washington is one of 10 states that are most likely to see a change in party control in one or both state legislative chambers after elections on November 6. Washington is divided into 49 legislative districts, with each electing one state senator and two representatives. Democrats currently hold a 50-48 majority in the House. In the Senate, the Democrats technically hold a 26-23 advantage, but because Sen. Tim Sheldon caucuses with Republicans, in practice it is 25-24. Because they also hold the governor’s mansion, Washington is one of the eight states in which Democrats have a trifecta of both legislative chambers plus the governorship.
This cycle, 25 of the Washington State Senate’s 49 seats are up for grabs. Of them, Democrats hold 13 seats and Republicans hold nine. Due to one Democrat and two Republicans retiring, three seats have no incumbent. In order to flip the chamber, Republicans would only need to pick up one seat.
All 98 seats in the Washington House of Representatives are up for election. To flip the chamber, Republicans would have to capture two Democratic-held seats.
Since the 1930s, Republicans have controlled Washington’s state house only 11 times, and Democrats have controlled the chamber since 2002. The Senate has historically been far more competitive and, in part due to coalitions, Republicans held the chamber from 2013 until the 2017 special election, which created the current Democratic advantage.
There is no gubernatorial election in Washington this cycle, as Governor Jay Inslee (D) is not up for reelection until 2020. Although Republicans can’t create a trifecta on November 6, they have a chance to significantly alter Washington’s legislative future.