Cathlamet Republican Joel McEntire Thursday night watched the margin between himself and nine-term 19th District incumbent Democrat Brian Blake of Aberdeen widen to a near-insurmountable level.
Thursday evening's unofficial returns showed McEntire with 52.3% of the vote to Blake's 47.6%, a lead over the Aberdeen representative of 3,100 votes with about 4,000 ballots left to be counted, all but cementing McEntire's win.
The totals showed 35,063 votes for McEntire and 31,918 for Blake. Blake had hoped for later return to narrow his challenger's lead, only to see it grow: he was trailing by about 1,300 votes on Tuesday night and 2,500 on Wednesday.
The 19th district includes parts of Cowlitz, Grays Harbor, Lewis, Wahkiakum and Pacific counties.
According to the secretary of state's website, there are about 500 ballots left to count in Cowlitz County, 2,000 in Grays Harbor, 132 in Lewis, 15 in Wahkiakum and 1,315 in Pacific as of Thursday.
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Both men said key issues this race are taxes and the state budget, the state COVID-19 response and improving the economy.
Blake, 60, has leaned on his track record of helping his constituents by building many new bridges, updating highway exchanges, deepening the Columbia River channel and improving Greys Harbor College and Lower Columbia College.
He won Grays Harbor and Pacific counties.
In 2018, McEntire, who turned 33 on Election Day, spent most of the campaign season deployed to Kuwait as a Marine Corps reservist, but said he thought his extensive door-knocking and focus on reducing taxes would help bring him victory.
He won Lewis, Cowlitz and Wahkiakum counties.