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Jim Walsh

"We want to give school districts more options to harden their campuses," state Rep. Jim Walsh said Monday.

Counting of thousands more ballots Wednesday failed to change the status of the close race between state Rep. Jim Walsh and challenger Erin Frasier, as Walsh continued to cling to a narrow lead.

The latest count in the five-county 19th District had Walsh ahead by a mere 298 votes, 23,242 to 22,944. Walsh had 50.32 percent of the vote. If his lead does not widen in further ballot counting, the race will be subject to an automatic recount. Frasier, a Pe El Democrtat, had 49.68 percent.

Frasier was leading Walsh, a first-term Republican from Aberdeen, in Grays Harbor, Pacific and Cowlitz counties, but Walsh was outpolling her 2-1 in Lewis County and also winning in Wahkiakum County. Thousands more ballots remain to be counted in Cowlitz County, which has the largest number of voters in the district and where Frasier is winning narrowly, with 50.3 percent of the vote.

The race was expected to be close based on the results of the August primary.

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.

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