UPDATE | Larsen concedes in 23rd District race
By HENRI GENDREAU
Bainbridge Island Review Staff Writer
August 7, 2012 · Updated 11:05 PM
With his race for the 23rd Legislative District’s House Position 2 seat all but officially over, Henning B. Larsen said he will stay involved in politics.
“I’m obviously not thrilled, but I’m not surprised either,” said Larsen, a Democrat taking his first shot at elected office.
Larsen pulled in 7.36 percent of the vote, with 1,348 votes in early returns.
A Silverdale resident, Larsen, 31, has spent the last eight years working as the poker tournament director at the Suquamish Clearwater Casino.
Larsen remained upbeat on Election Night, and vowed to stay involved at the county and state levels.
“No matter the outcome, I’m happy how things went,” he said.
Larsen said he called his two opponents to congratulate them.
Someone who is even happier with how things went is Democratic incumbent Rep. Drew Hansen, who garnered 51.83 percent of the votes, with 9,494 votes in the initial tally.
Hansen said voters recognized him as one who focused on the issue of jobs in the Legislature, and cited the expansion of the Olympic College engineering program, which he helped get started. He spent six years serving on the Olympic College Foundation board, and afterward worked as the governor’s representative on the Community Economic Revitalization Board for six years.
Hansen said that job creation was a priority in the election and that voters recognized his experience.
“Clearly a lot of voters agree that’s the kind of common sense idea to move the state forward,” he said.
His Republican challenger, James M. Olsen of Bainbridge Island, had a different view of how to move the state forward.
“The good voters of the 23rd Legislative District realize very clearly … a difference between a trial lawyer, a military man and a small-business man,” said Olsen, referencing Hansen’s partnership at the law firm Susman Godfrey, and Olsen’s 30 years in the Coast Guard.
Olsen received 7,456 votes, taking in 40.70 percent of the vote.
Olsen previously ran for the same position against now Sen. Christine Rolfes in 2010, and his interest in politics remains unabated. He pledged to bring reform to the state’s capital.
“If you want more of the same in Olympia, Mr. Hansen is your man," Olsen said. "If you want to bring prosperity to Olympia … Mr. Olsen is your man.”
Hansen and Olsen will face off in the General Election on Tuesday, Nov. 6.