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Press Release

Wednesday, November 9

2016 Election Outcomes Mixed for Employers, Employees

OLYMPIA — If current ballot counts hold steady, the 2016 election outcomes appear to be mixed for Washington state’s employer community.

This year, the Association of Washington Business endorsed candidates for statewide office, the state Supreme Court and Legislative races. The group also opposed three statewide ballot initiatives.

Statewide races:

In the race for governor, secretary of state, superintendent of public instruction and commissioner of public lands, AWB endorsed candidates Bill Bryant, Kim Wyman, Erin Jones and Steve McLaughlin, respectively.

“There are still many ballots to be counted, but so far the results for AWB-endorsed candidates and issues appear mixed. We are encouraged by Secretary of State Kim Wyman’s results so far. Gov. Jay Inslee is maintaining a solid lead in his re-election bid and, despite our endorsement of his challenger, we remain committed to finding common ground with the governor and working with him to address our state’s challenges. As a state facing many challenges in our forests, streams and in the Puget Sound, we believed Steve McLaughlin’s background made him well-suited to serve as public lands commissioner, so we’re disappointed that’s he is being edged out. One of the duties of the position is to manage state forest land to generate revenue for schools and local governments, and we hope that Hilary Franz gives appropriate attention to this area. However, regardless of who sits in the state’s top agency offices, AWB remains committed to working alongside them to build strong coalitions that solve Washington’s most pressing problems and build a strong economy throughout the state.” – AWB President Kris Johnson

State Supreme Court races:

AWB endorsed Judge Dave Larson and Kittitas County Prosecutor Greg Zempel to serve on the state Supreme Court.

“We’ve increasingly experienced state Supreme Court rulings that have a direct impact on the legislative branch of government. It appears the current court make-up will stand and the much-anticipated balance our members sought with our endorsements must wait another two years.” – AWB Vice President, Government Affairs Gary Chandler

State legislative races:

Control of the state Legislature hangs in the balance with this election, but it appears AWB-endorsed candidates are leading or tied in their races as ballots continue to be counted.

“If the current results hold up, the state House Democrats will retain their long-held majority and in the Senate, the Majority Coalition Caucus will maintain control. As we’ve seen over the past few years, when there is a balance of power, it gives way for new ideas and solutions to be deliberated. That’s good for the state.” – AWB Vice President, Government Affairs Gary Chandler

Ballot initiatives:

Of the many ballot measures before voters, AWB took the position to oppose three: Initiative 1433, increasing the statewide minimum wage to $13.50 per hour; Initiative 1464, increasing taxes to create publicly-funded elections; and Initiative 732, creating a new carbon tax.

  • Initiative 1433:

“As expected, Initiative 1433, the minimum wage measure, is passing by a large margin. Unfortunately, this one-size-fits-all approach to wages could have the unintended consequence of hurting the very people the backers aim to help. Small businesses and employers in economically-depressed regions of the state may not be able keep up with the rising labor costs the initiative will impose, creating difficult decisions about both job creation and job retention.” – AWB Vice President, Government Affairs Gary Chandler

  • Initiative 732:

“We believed that voters would reject Initiative 732 once they understood it would immediately raise the gas tax by 25-cents and raise the cost of energy for families and employers with little or no impact on carbon emissions. The new energy tax could have hurt the household budgets of our low- and fixed-income neighbors throughout the state. That’s why a diverse coalition of labor, social justice groups, environmental stakeholders and business leaders worked to defeat it. While we share the goal of lowering emissions, Initiative 732 was not the right solution.” – AWB Government Affairs Director Brandon Houskeeper

  • Initiative 1464:

“This complex initiative would have unfairly hurt border counties that rely on out-of-state customers, including our Canadian neighbors, to shop at their businesses to pay for taxpayer-funded political campaigns. As written, it would have created a system by which a well-organized campaign could game the system, shutting out newcomers to the political process. Worse, the initiative’s cost estimates to taxpayers were roughly 10-fold the tax revenue collected under the initiative. Fair elections are what we all strive for, but Initiative 1464 was not good for employers, workers or taxpayers.” – AWB Vice President, Government Affairs Gary Chandler.

Due to Washington’s all-mail voting, there are still thousands of ballots that remain to be counted before the outcomes of all races and ballot measures are certified.

About the Association of Washington Business
Formed in 1904, the Association of Washington Business is Washington’s oldest and largest statewide business association, and includes more than 7,000 members representing 700,000 employees. AWB serves as both the state’s chamber of commerce and the manufacturing and technology association. While its membership includes major employers like Boeing, Microsoft and Weyerhaeuser, 90 percent of AWB members employ fewer than 100 people. More than half of AWB’s members employ fewer than 10. For more about AWB, visit

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