WA Supreme Court hopefuls await final vote count

Paul Queary
Associated Press
Spokesman Review


OLYMPIA, WA_ The big players who poured money, influence and partisan vitriol into a Washington Supreme Court race are now waiting out the absentee vote to see whose strategy paid off.

As of Wednesday afternoon, prominent appellate attorney Jim Johnson was leading Mary Fairhurst, a longtime assistant attorney general, by nearly 10,000 votes. But tens of thousands of votes remain to be counted, so nobody was willing to call Johnson the winner yet because Fairhurst ran strongest in a few large counties with lots of still-uncounted absentee ballots.

But that didn't stop the happiness from bubbling out of Johnson's supporters among homebuilders, the state Republican Party and other conservative sectors. And it didn't stop the gloom from seeping out of the labor unions, environmental groups and Indian tribes who backed Fairhurst.

"It's important that we're going to have another voice of reason," said Erin Shannon, a spokeswoman for the Building Industry Association of Washington. The BIAW -- one of the biggest players in Washington politics -- poured more than $100,000 into the race, including a mailer late in the campaign calling Fairhurst inexperienced.

Johnson, 57, bills himself as a staunch defender of the Constitution. He's defended Tim Eyman's anti-tax initiatives, fought tribal claims on private and public lands, and battled to keep Washington's blanket primary-election system.


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