State Rep. Joel McEntire came out of Tuesday night’s primary with a strong lead over the two Democrats challenging him.
McEntire, a Republican from Cathlamet, led the primary results for the District 19 House race with 59% of the overall vote as of 5 p.m. Wednesday. Cara Cusack was running in second place with 32.5% of the vote and Jon-Erik Hegstad received 8.5% of the votes.
McEntire first ran for the state House in 2018 and was elected to represent the district in 2020, unseating a longtime Democrat in Rep. Brian Blake. He is a reservist for the U.S. Marine Corps and the former chair of the Wahkiakum County Republican Party.
McEntire said on Wednesday that he was confident in his reelection chances based on the primary results. While he planned to keep an eye on Cusack’s campaign and the local dynamics, McEntire said he would focus more of his efforts on helping other Republican candidates try to flip seats in the Legislature in November.
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“We have an extremely enthusiastic campaign team and friends on the ground and grassroots support. I’m trying to export that enthusiasm to other places in the state,” McEntire said.
Cowlitz County’s results mirrored the rest of the district closely. McEntire received 56% of the votes for the county as of Wednesday, while Cusack received 32% and Hegstad received 11.5%.
Cusack works remotely as a program manager for a tech company and lives on a farm near Chehalis. During her campaign Cusack has been a strong supporter of abortion access and gun control but said she’s willing to work across the aisle to get things done at the state level.
Hegstad, a self-described progressive Democrat from Longview, heavily focused his campaign on addressing climate change.
The other House seat in District 19 has nonbinding primary results, because there are only two candidates on the ballot and neither would be eliminated, but it showed Rep. Jim Walsh performing just as well as McEntire. As of Wednesday afternoon, Walsh had received 60% of the total vote and Democrat Kelli Hughes-Ham received 40%.
The next vote total updates for Cowlitz County will be released late on Thursday afternoon.