A tale of two elections in 2022: The 42nd District

Sen. Simon Sefzik

Sen Elect. Sharon Shewmake, D-42

Disappearing leads from Primary to General elections are generally very rare; but the 42nd Legislative District in northern Whatcom County began the habit in 2018.  All three Republicans lost the Primary elections but two of the three Republicans were elected in the General: one by 45 votes and the other by 84 votes.

In 2020 the two Republican Candidates for State Legislature in the 42nd received the nod from Primary Voters.

Luanne VanWerven was the winner with nearly 52% of the Vote and new comer Jennifer Sefzik led by nearly one percentage point.  They were both defeated in the General election by Alicia Rule in the VanWerven race and Sharon Shewmake in the Jennifer Sefzik race.

So it turned out to be the same in the 2022 race where the Combination of Simon Sefzik and Ben Elenbaas garnered nearly 53% of the Primary vote over incumbent Rep Sharon Shewmake.  In the other races Twasha Dykstra and Kamal Bhachu received a clear win with 51% of the vote over incumbent Alicia Rule.  And Dan Johnson and Kyle Christensen received nearly 52% over two newcomers to the race Joe Timmons and Richard May.

What happened in 2022?

How could an election turn so dramatically between the first part of August and November 8th.  In the state Senate race a landslide of the votes coming in between the Primary and General would have to have occurred.

How could a lead of 3028 votes by Republicans in the Primary disappear to a 905 vote lead for the Democrats in the general.

The Change had to come mostly  from “additional” voters, who voted in the General but not in the Primary. In both 2020 and 2022 this was the case.

Primary to General Vote in 42nd made the difference to the Democratic Party’s surprise win.

In 2022 the vote difference between the Primary and the General was 25518 votes… If we assume this to be the “new” election for the 42nd. ;the Democrats took a 16% swing into election night in November.  Anyone would define that as a landslide if it wasn’t only a part of the election cycle (those voters who did not vote in the primary and only voted in the General Election).

But where do these votes come from and why didn’t they vote in the Primary. AND IS the 42nd district really a 58 plus percentage Democrat district as the breakdown of the “Primary to General” Numbers show.


Obviously the  Northern Whatcom County Legislative District is not a solid 58% Democrat district ,the overall General Election percentage in the 42nd Senate Race ended up a 50.5% to 49.35% Democrat win.

But those that voted From the “Primary to General” (Move ins;  Voter transfers, new registers and those not voting as a habit in Primaries)  got to the polls for the Democrats as the results above show.

Three areas of the 42nd District give a better understanding of the communities in the District.

Defined as:

  1. Rural,
  2. Small Towns (Blaine, Everson, Ferndale, Lynden, Nooksack and Sumas included),
  3. City Limits of Bellingham.

A Smaller overall turnout in Bellingham City Limits is normal in the Primary and a larger turnout of the City can be partially explained with the return of the “mobile” population in the fall.

Turnout for the Primary compared to the “Primary to General” election and the General election were as Follows:



The Primary to General Demographics: The “New Election”

The overall General Election voting trend followed the national trend where the 18 to 35 Year old turn out was much greater than in the Primary election.

Of the number that turned out in the “Primary to General” election(25852 voters)…in Bellingham alone the Count of the “Primary to General” Election shows that nearly 41% of the turnout there was under 35 while the over 65 number was about 14%.

This more than reversed the numbers in the Primary(52,809 votes) where the age group numbers were:

18 to 35 Year Old in Bellingham just over 20%.

and the Over 65 years old 36%.

The Republicans incapability to come up with campaign issues that spoke to the 18 to 35 group allowed the Democrats to take this age group between the Primary and the General and thus win all three legislative seats in District 42.


What about Redistricting?

The Tax Man Cometh (by 20 votes).