WA State Supreme Court, legislative races remain tight

Joseph Turner; The News Tribune

Washington State - 11/13/02 - The race for a seat on the Washington State Supreme Court tightened considerably Tuesday when a count of absentee ballots cut the lead of Olympia lawyer Jim Johnson to a mere 112 votes.

Johnson led his opponent, assistant state attorney general Mary Fairhurst, by 9,900 votes on the morning after the Nov. 5 election.

About half the state's counties reported more election returns on Tuesday, but King County has an estimated 100,000 to 135,000 ballots still to be counted. So that and other races could change even more by the time counties close out their election books on Nov. 20.

Meanwhile, control of the state Senate remains in limbo.

Additional ballots from Pierce County trimmed the lead held by incumbent Sen. Bob Oke (R-Port Orchard) to only 150 votes over Democratic challenger Betty Ringlee. Oke leads 19,113 to 18,963.

Pierce County has fewer than 2,000 ballots left to be counted and will make its next report on Friday. Kitsap County, which has about half of the 26th District, will update its tally today. Kitsap has about 10,000 ballots uncounted countywide.

If Democrats can knock off Oke, they would retain their 25-24 majority. If they can't, control would shift to Republicans.

Several House races got tighter with Tuesday's report. It still appears Democrats will add two seats to their 50-48 majority - and perhaps a third seat.

Democrat Dawn Morrell is ahead of incumbent Rep. Dave Morell (R-Puyallup) by 17,524 to 17,038 in the Puyallup area's 25th District.

Democrat Pat Sullivan, Covington's mayor, now has a 34-vote lead over Republican incumbent Rep. Jack Cairnes - 9,903 to 9,869. Some 40 percent of the ballots in that race are still outstanding.

Republican Lois McMahan, a former legislator from Olalla, leads Democratic Rep. Brock Jackley of Manchester 19,161 to 18,652 in the 26th District race to represent the Gig Harbor and Kitsap peninsulas.

If Democrats unseat Cairnes, they would outnumber Republicans 53-45. But Cairnes made a comeback with absentee voters two years ago.


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