OLYMPIA, Wash. – Democratic incumbent U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen held on to his lead over Republican challenger John Koster Saturday night as voting continued in the drawn-out race for northern Washington state's 2nd Congressional District.
Larsen had a lead of 3,841 votes over Koster, giving him a 51 percent to 49 percent advantage. At one point Saturday, Larsen had been up by more than 4,100 votes, but he lost some ground after Snohomish County, the population center for the district, updated its results. Larsen's lead over Koster on Saturday was about 30 votes less than Friday, the first decrease after three straight days of an increasing margin for Larsen.
Larsen initially had been trailing Koster by less than 1,500 votes after the initial count on election night Tuesday, but took the lead on Wednesday and had steadily increased his lead.
Koster, a farmer from Arlington, has the backing of tea party activists and the endorsement of 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Larsen, who is seeking his sixth term, was first elected to the seat in 2000, beating Koster, who was then a state representative, by four percentage points.
The 2nd District spans the northern part of Western Washington from just north of Seattle to the border with Canada, and includes the San Juan Islands.
As of Saturday night, Koster led in Island, Skagit and Snohomish counties. Koster led Larsen in vote-rich Snohomish County by more than 1,900 votes. Larsen led in Whatcom, another large county in the district, as well as San Juan and King counties. King County makes up a very small portion of the 2nd District.
Counties aren't scheduled to update their results again until Monday.