Daniel Miller was drinking coffee in a downtown Friday Harbor cafe the morning after the primary election and savoring his likely place on the Nov. 5 general election ballot.
Tuesday was a big night for the collectibles dealer and landscaper, who is making his ninth bid for public office since 1994. He fared better in two of three counties than labor law attorney Carrie Blackwood of Bellingham to most likely advance in his bid for state senator from the 40th Legislative District.
Should his lead hold when late ballots are counted, Miller will face the incumbent, Liz Lovelett of Anacortes, Nov. 5.
As elections offices closed for the night Tuesday, Lovelett was leading districtwide with 12,643 votes, followed by Miller, 7,939, and Blackwood, 5,517. Greta Aitken, an interpreter and tax preparer, received 416 votes.
Wednesday morning, elections offices reported a combined 7,200 ballots to count — 5,000 in Whatcom, 1,500 in Skagit, and 700 in San Juan. Still, Skagit County Elections Supervisor David Cunningham said Miller’s 9-point lead over Blackwood is a big gap to close.
Miller said voters told him they are concerned about overtaxation and what they see as attacks on free speech and religious liberties. He was hesitant to go into specifics on the latter while on his cell phone in a crowded cafe. But he said he could be counted on as a senator to oppose a state income tax, which he said is unconstitutional; safeguard against what he sees as unnecessary increases in taxes and fees; and stand up “for people working hard each day to make ends meet.”
Miller also wants to explore what he says is a possible correlation between certain medications and Alzheimer’s disease. He’d invite medical professionals and residents to a hearing on the subject.
“I’m very excited going forward,” Miller said. “I appreciate the voters and the people who voted for me.”
Lovelett said Friday she was taking a week-long break but commented before leaving town: “We are just thrilled with the election results. We worked really hard trying to get to every corner of the district and hear back from people about what their needs were and get the message across about the campaign and the work that I’ve done. I think the results show the culmination of those efforts. I’m thrilled to have earned as many votes as I did and I look forward to having more discussions with the community about what the issues are that matter most to them.”
On election day, within a few hours of polls closing, supporters were clear on why they were holding “Lovelett for Senate” signs at 12th Street and Commercial Avenue.
“She’s very strong on the environment, which is a huge issue here. She’s a very strong union supporter, which is also huge here,” said Corinne Salcedo, chairwoman of Fidalgo Democrats. “Improving the economy in general, schools, affordable housing. When she was on the City Council, she wrote the affordable housing strategic plan. That’s a huge issue for her too. Saving the orcas, that’s huge.”
Salcedo said Lovelett immediately jumped into the job of legislator, writing six bills that all became law.
Carlann Copps, who described herself as a “Liz groupie,” added, “We sent her there and she did the job we asked her to do. We want to send her back.”
— This version has been updated to include a comment from Lovelett.