Republican U.S. Rep. Jack Metcalf said he was “shook and humbled” after he fell more than 2,000 votes behind Democratic challenger Kevin Quigley after the Nov. 5 election.
The 2nd District congressman was a lot happier this week when he pulled ahead of Quigley as late absentee ballots were counted.
“I’m not going to claim anything, but if the trend continues we certainly will win, and I’m very pleased about that,” Metcalf said as about 60 supporters chanted, “Jack is back, Jack is back,” at a Wednesday news conference.
As of Friday, the county was 119,155-117,987 in Metcalf’s favor.
The Associated Press had called the election for Quigley the day after the voting.
Metcalf’s turnaround mirrored the comeback of Rep. Linda Smith, a fellow West Side Republican. Smith trailed Democratic challenger Brian Baird in the 3rd District race until late absentee ballots pushed her ahead.
As of Friday, she led 119,016-117,902. A few thousand ballots remain to be counted in both races.
If both Metcalf and Smith hold their leads, the Washington state congressional delegation will consist of six Republicans and three Democrats.
“Close elections are humbling experiences,” Metcalf said, adding that he has lost two. “They are humbling to both sides … it sort of gets you back to basics … why are you here and what’s important.”
Still, he said, “I really in my heart figured this was going to work out.”
Metcalf also said he wanted to reach out to the voters. “A goodly number of them did not vote for me, but I represent them,” he said.
But the veteran politician was only so humble. Asked whether the close vote will convince him to change his views, he noted he would be 69 later this month: “I’m quite old to change my views.”
Metcalf credited his volunteers and an overall GOP effort on the phones in the final hours before polls closed with producing the late absentee tallies.
“I’d like to thank all the volunteers … especially those who worked so hard on the absentee ballots effort,” he said to wild applause.
Metcalf especially praised the help of senior citizens, who, he said, refused to give up despite a “million-dollar” campaign by national labor organizations that painted a negative picture of him.
“If I believed all those terrible things they said about me I wouldn’t even vote for myself,” he said.
Metcalf said he believed limits should be placed on the ability of outside parties to invade congressional districts with negative campaigning. He said 60 percent of the money in a district race should have to be raised from within the district, and that any claims from opponents should have to be free of distortion.
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