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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Leonard Christian leads incumbent Rob Chase for Spokane Valley House seat while incumbents prevail in other Spokane districts

State Rep. Rob Chase was losing a tight race for re-election Tuesday night against fellow Republican Leonard Christian.

As of Tuesday’s results, Christian, a former state representative, had 50.8% of the vote, with Chase at 47% in the heavily Republican 4th Legislative District, which includes Spokane Valley.

“Obviously, we’re ahead, so that’s pretty exciting,” Christian said. “I believe the hard work and the people that supported me really made a difference.”

More ballots will be counted in the coming days, so the results of the race are likely to change. In the primary, the results were nearly even between Chase and Christian after the first count, and Chase gained about 3½ percentage points after the tally was completed. County auditors were anticipating a later-than-normal surge in voting, meaning it could be the end of this week or early next before most ballots are counted.

Chase expects to gain votes as ballots delivered closer to deadline are counted, he said while picking up yard signs late Tuesday. He noted his supporters, who are more conservative, tend to vote later, while democrats, who he acknowledged supported Christian, seeing him as a more moderate candidate, are likely to vote early.

“I’m optimistic still,” Chase said.

Christian believes his lead will hold as more votes are counted, adding he’s excited to work with Suzanne Schmidt, who won her legislative race.

“I think we’ll make a great team,” Christian said.

Chase, former Spokane County treasurer, joined the Legislature in 2020 after far-right Rep. Matt Shea did not run for re-election following an investigation that found he committed domestic terrorism. Chase followed Shea’s footsteps, sponsoring similar bills and sharing conspiracy theories surrounding COVID-19 and election fraud on his Facebook page. Chase did not immediately respond to request for comment Tuesday.

Christian also had a brief stint in the Legislature. He was appointed in 2014 to fill the remainder of Larry Crouse’s term but lost the seat to Bob McCaslin that same year.

Though both Republicans, Christian and Chase disagree on a number of policies.

Chase has spoken about his support for moving the United States back to the gold standard and for splitting Washington into two states. Christian does not support either of those ideas and has criticized Chase for spending his time in the Legislature sponsoring bills that he believes are a waste of time.

The two strongly oppose expanding abortion rights, as they both identify as pro-life.

In the race to fill the other seat in the 4th Legislative District, Republican Schmidt beat Ted Cummings.

Schmidt, former CEO of the Associated Builders and Contractors Inland Pacific Chapter, finished Tuesday with 62% of votes, while Cummings finished with 37.7% .

The winner will fill the seat left by McCaslin, who retired from the Legislature earlier this year to run for county auditor.

Schmidt focused her campaign on working with both sides of the aisle in what she calls a “stalemate” in Olympia. She said she hopes to work on legislation that would specifically benefit the 4th District, such as securing funding for a new performing arts center, expanding the HUB Sports Center and projects like the Pines Road railroad crossing.

Cummings had made his campaign about criticizing the GOP and said he did not want a Republican to run unopposed in the district, often criticizing those on the far right who he said have advanced conspiracy theories on election fraud and vaccines.

In the three other legislative districts in Spokane County, incumbents prevailed.

In Spokane’s Democratic 3rd District, both Democratic incumbents won re-election Tuesday.

Rep. Timm Ormsby had 60.8% of votes, while opponent Republican Natalie Poulson had 39.1%. Rep. Marcus Riccelli had 62.9% of votes, while opponent Republican Scotty Nicol had 37%.

In the 6th Legislative District, Republican state Rep. Jenny Graham beat Democrat Michaela Kelso, 61.1% to 28.8%.

First elected in 2018, Graham has made victim advocacy and public safety some of her top priorities. This election, she again said public safety was a top priority, criticizing the Legislature for passing a number of police reform bills in 2020.

Kelso made education and housing her top two issues this election and said she felt she was much better suited for the position than Graham.

In the 7th Legislative District, Republican state Rep. Jacquelin Maycumber, current Republican floor leader, bested Republican Lonny Ray Williams, a far-right “constitutional conservative.”

Maycumber had 67.7% of the vote, while Williams had 30.5% as of Tuesday.

Reporter Emma Epperly contributed to this article. An earlier version of this article misstated Leonard Christian’s name.

Laurel Demkovich's reporting for The Spokesman-Review is funded in part by Report for America and by members of the Spokane community. This story can be republished by other organizations for free under a Creative Commons license. For more information on this, please contact our newspaper’s managing editor.