Republicans clinched a key victory Wednesday as Spokane County elections workers processed another 29,000 ballots, but some races remain too close to call.
Incumbent Spokane County Commissioner Al French has won District 5, which includes the West Plains, northwest Spokane and the upper South Hill. The longtime politician has 51.4% of the vote to Democrat Maggie Yates’ 48.5%.
“We are very pleased that we’ll be able to serve the community for another two years,” French said.
Yates called French on Wednesday night to concede the race, a move French described as “gracious.” French’s victory ensures the GOP will hold a majority on the new five-member Spokane County Commission.
“I’m just incredibly humbled by the amount of support our campaign had,” Yates said. “People were willing to question the status quo and demand better, including Republicans that voted for their first Democrat.”
The political newcomer, who spent more than three years leading the county’s criminal justice reform efforts before her resignation in January, said she’s unsure if she’ll run for office again.
French, an outspoken opponent of the Spokane County Commission’s expansion from three to five board members, said he had one positive takeaway from the new five-district setup.
“I was able to doorbell in every part of the urban area in my district,” he said. “I do enjoy that one-on-one contact with the voter to hear firsthand what their concerns are.”
In countywide elections, the closest race got even closer Wednesday.
Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton saw her lead over Republican challenger Bob McCaslin shrink by 0.7 percentage points.
With nearly 172,000 ballots counted, the Democrat has 51.4% of the vote to McCaslin’s 48.6%. McCaslin, a sitting state representative, trails the incumbent Dalton by 4,663 votes. The race still is too close to call.
While McCaslin can continue to hope for a comeback, his fellow 4th Legislative District lawmaker got less encouraging news when the latest vote tallies dropped.
Rep. Rob Chase, R-Liberty Lake, trails fellow Republican Leonard Christian by more than 3 percentage points. The incumbent has 47.3% of the vote while Christian holds 50.7%. Chase on Wednesday gained a mere 0.2 percentage points on Christian.
Roughly 50,000 ballots remain uncounted. Dalton said she expects final turnout figures to fall in the 65% to 70% range, which would be typical based on turnout in past mid-term elections.
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