Republican Dan Griffey of Allyn seized a 157-vote lead over Democratic state Rep. Kathy Haigh after vote counts Thursday evening in the 35th Legislative District.
The race margin is so close a machine recount would be required, if results hold up. Potentially 15,000 votes remain to be counted.
“I know we will win this election now,” Griffey said.
House Democrats have already lost two seats from their 55-to-43 majority in the Nov. 4 election. Close vote counts still ongoing in three races including Haigh’s could cut their majority to 50 seats.
If that happens it would be a better-than-expected result for House Republicans, according to Rep. J.T. Wilcox of the Yelm area, who had a role with the House GOP’s campaign committee. Wilcox had predicted a gain for his caucus of two to four seats, while his Democratic counterparts were hoping for a gain of two seats.
Unlike earlier returns that showed Haigh beating Griffey in Thurston County and losing in Kitsap and Mason counties, Thursday’s tallies saw Griffey gain votes in all three parts of the sprawling district that runs from Bremerton to Shelton and the southwest outskirts of Olympia.
“The trend doesn’t usually change. So my guess is I’m probably not going to make it,’’ Haigh said, wanting to see another day’s count before conceding. “It’s a pretty hard number to change.”
Haigh, a Shelton veterinarian, is in her eighth term. Griffey is a firefighter.
In the other 35th District races, Sen. Tim Sheldon was up by 3,500 votes over Democrat Irene Bowling, who had not yet conceded.
First-term Republican Rep. Drew MacEwen of Union easily defeated first-time Democratic candidate Tammey Newton of Allyn.
In other close races, Republican Michelle Caldier of Port Orchard was leading Democratic Rep. Larry Seaquist of Gig Harbor but Democrat Christine Kilduff led Republican Paul Wagemann of Lakewood for an open seat in the 28th. Pierce County ballots were still being counted in both races late Thursday.