State Sen. Don Benton and Rep. Tim Probst are in a virtual dead heat in a battle that will determine whether Democrats maintain their 27-22 Senate majority or see it eroded by one position.
Probst, who lost the lead on Thursday, regained it Friday, out-polling Benton by just 16 votes out of nearly 56,000 counted so far. With Clark County election offices closed Monday, there won’t be another count until Tuesday.
Friday’s election tally showed that 3,580 voters returned ballots but didn’t cast votes in the tight Senate race, which cost the candidates and independent-expenditure campaigns more than $1.2 million. The 17th District includes part of Vancouver and nearby communities.
The Republican Party will gain one seat in the Senate if Benton wins. In other contests, the GOP picked up two seats, through Rep. Bruce Dammeier’s victory over Eric Herde for an open seat in the 25th District in Pierce County, and Rep. Barbara Bailey’s defeat of Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen in the 10th District, which includes Island County and parts of Skagit and Snohomish counties.
Those Republican wins were partly offset by Democrat Mark Mullet’s decisive victory over Republican Brian Toft in King County’s 5th District. Toft conceded to Mullet Friday.