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Smith Widens Lead In Congressional Race Metcalf Nearly Catches Up To Challenger In Other House Race

Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Republican Rep. Linda Smith slightly widened her lead Tuesday and GOP colleague Rep. Jack Metcalf almost wiped out the advantage of Democratic challenger Kevin Quigley as more absentee votes were counted in two tight Washington House races.

Both Smith and Metcalf were counted out on election night, but if current trends continue, Democrats could lose two seats in Congress from this state that they appeared to have gained last week.

Smith was 739 votes ahead of Democratic challenger Brian Baird in the 3rd District of southwest Washington. After election night, Baird led by 2,600 votes and was pronounced the winner by The Associated Press and Cable News Network.

More than 10,000 absentee and questioned ballots remain to be counted. A questioned ballot is usually one in which the voter was not on precinct lists.

In the 2nd District of northwest Washington, Quigley clung to a 388-vote lead, down from 1,665 at the beginning of the day.

About 20,000 absentee and questioned ballots remain to be counted in the 2nd District. They are concentrated in Whatcom, Skagit and Island counties, all of which Metcalf is carrying.

The two races for Congress appear to be the closest that Washington has seen in the last quarter-century. They are among five House contests still unresolved across the country.

According to nearly complete returns, Republicans have won 223 seats, enough for a reduced majority in the 435-member House. They are guaranteed one more seat because two Republicans are involved in a Dec. 10 runoff in Texas.

Democrats have captured 204 seats, a gain of six. One independent has been re-elected, Vermont’s socialist Rep. Bernie Sanders, who usually votes with the Democrats.

Also undecided are a recountbound contest in Pennsylvania where incumbent GOP Rep. Jon Fox leads Democrat Joseph Hoeffel by just 10 votes, and the re-election battle of GOP Rep. Bob Dornan in California.

A presidential candidate earlier this year, Dornan came out of election night with a 233-vote lead over Democratic challenger Loretta Sanchez. But Sanchez took the lead Tuesday.

In two other races in Texas, Democratic Rep. Ken Bentsen and GOP Rep. Steve Stockman, will face opponents in runoff elections next month. The runoffs were required under a late, court-ordered redistricting plan.

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