Politics & Government

Vote tallies keep favoring GOP challenger Dan Griffey; Rep. Kathy Haigh weighing options for a hand recount in 35th district

Three Washington state House races remained very close after another round of vote counts Friday, but Republican Dan Griffey expanded his lead over Democratic Rep. Kathy Haigh in the rural 35th Legislative District.

Griffey, a firefighter from Allyn, has said he expects to win, and his edge grew overnight from 157 votes to about 285 with fewer and fewer left to count.

If Haigh falls, as is likely, she’ll be the third casualty for House Democrats in the Nov. 4 election. The longtime Shelton veterinarian in her eighth term was not conceding.

“I have so many people calling me saying ‘please, please do not concede.’ I have a lot of disappointed supporters,” Haigh said Friday evening. “I’m not real hopeful but I’ll certainly give it the college try.’’

The current vote margin is too large to require a state-funded machine recount, and the vote gap would have to shrink to less than a quarter percent of total ballots cast – in this case closer to 110 votes – for state elections officials to order a mandatory hand recount. A hand count is more likely to find errors or change an outcome than a machine count.

Haigh said she’ll be looking into her options for requesting a hand recount. “We’ll probably talk about it this weekend,” she said.

State elections officials say a candidate would need to post a deposit of 25 cents per ballot recounted for hand counts.

House Democrats went into the election with a 55-43 majority, but Rep. Monica Stonier of Vancouver lost to Republican Lynda Wilson in the 17th and Rep. Dawn Morrell of Puyallup lost to Melanie Stambaugh in the 25th.

Two other races remain in the air: Rep. Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor, was 327 votes behind Republican Michelle Caldier of Port Orchard in the 26th district; but Democrat Christine Kilduff of University Place was 286 votes ahead of Republican Paul Wagemann of Lakewood in the 28th.

Depending what happens, Democrats’ majority could shrink to between 50 and 53 seats.