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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

It’s unclear which Democrat will face Joel Kretz for Northeast Washington House seat

State Rep. Joel Kretz, R-Wauconda, looks over some paperwork on Monday, the first day of Washington's legislative session. (RICHARD ROESLER / SR)

Whatever blue wave was seen in other parts of the state, it doesn’t look ready to wipe out long-time Republican state Rep. Joel Kretz, who easily topped three challengers in the primary in the race for a 7th Legislative District house seat.

Kretz racked up 63 percent of the vote, while the next two closest candidates, Democrats Mike Bell and Crystal Oliver, drew 16.9 and 15.6 percent of the vote respectively, making the second-place finisher too close to call Tuesday night.

Both Bell and Oliver have accused Kretz of valuing campaign donations over the needs of his constituents.

Kretz raised significantly more money than the other candidates, with more than $71,000. By comparison, Bell raised about $34,000 and Oliver roughly $8,000.

Both Bell and Oliver said they would support the other if they made it to the general election.

“This is the year of the woman, and there are a lot of women voting,” Bell said. “If Crystal ends up going to the general, I will support her vigorously.”

Oliver said if she advances to the general election, she’ll be reaching out to Republicans and independents who have moved away from Kretz in recent years.

Bell, who had the second-highest number of votes as of Tuesday evening, said if he advances to the general election he’ll be ready to face Kretz head-on.

“I’m a fairly straightforward candidate, and not the typical politician,” he said. “I look forward to the next debate with Joel. Hopefully (voters) wake up and start voting for the best candidate, and not just the one that’s familiar.”

Attempts made to reach Kretz were unsuccessful.

It could take several more days of counting before it becomes clear which Democrat will emerge to face Kretz in the November election.