The surprising 19th District race between state Rep. Jim Walsh and Democratic challenger Erin Frasier remained too close to call Tuesday night.
Walsh had captured 50.7 percent of the vote while Frasier had 49.3 percent. Walsh was leading by 552 votes, 19,887 to Fraiser’s 19,335.
The race between first-time incumbent Walsh, 54, and Frasier, 39, was expected to be close based on results of the August top-two primary.
Walsh, an Aberdeen Republican, said Tuesday night he expects his lead to endure. If the 2016 election is any indication, his margin will widen as ballot counting continues, he said.
“This part of the state is continuing to drift more conservative,” Walsh said. “I think the next few elections will be interesting and fun to watch because I think the area is changing.”
Frasier, a Pe Ell Democrat and education policy associate, said she expected a tight race.
“It’s exciting to be up against an incumbent and have such a strong showing,” Frasier said. “What’s been the most impactful is getting out talking to folks, being at doors and having conversations.”
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The 19th District includes Kelso and Cowlitz County west of the Cowlitz River, all of Wahkiakum and Pacific counties and parts of Lewis and Grays Harbor counties.
Fraiser has a narrow lead of 106 votes in Cowlitz County, which has the district’s largest bloc of voters. She also lead Walsh in Grays Harbor and Pacific counties, but Walsh captured 69 percent of the vote in reliably Republican Lewis County. He also leads in Wahkiakum County.
Walsh narrowly won the 19th District, a historically blue area, by 559 votes in 2016 by outpolling Longview Democrat Teresa Purcell. He was the first Republican elected from the district in decades.
If re-elected, Walsh said he will focus on bringing jobs to the district.
“I love representing this part of the state,” Walsh said.
Frasier said if she takes the wins, she would look to create post-secondary options for youth and secure mental health resources for the community. Either way, Frasier said she appreciates everyone who voted.
“They’re ensuring we represent the voice of the people in the district, and that doesn’t happen unless people get out and put their vote in.”