State Rep. Jim Walsh added to his lead in further ballot counting Thursday and appears to have fended off a sharp challenge from Democratic challenger Erin Frasier for his 19th District seat.
Walsh’s lead in the five-county race grew from 298 votes Wednesday to 630 by Thursday evening, 25,417 to 24,787. He had 50.6 percent of the vote to Frasier’s 49.4. If the percentages don’t change, the race would no longer be subject to an automatic recount, as it was Wednesday.
Still, the Aberdeen Republican declined to declare victory, which would earn him a second two-year term.
“You never know for sure,” Walsh said. “But this is where we wanted to be.”
Walsh narrowly won the 19th District by 559 votes in 2016.
“We’ve been in this situation before,” Walsh said. “The good thing this time was we were a little ahead on election night. ... At this point, the trend line will likely continue to be friendly to me.”
Frasier, a 39-year-old Pe El resident, could not be reached for comment Thursday evening.
Walsh had been trailing Frasier in Cowlitz County in earlier returns but overtook her here on Thursday. He still is outpolling Frasier in Lewis and Wahkiakum counties, while Frasier retained her lead in Pacific and Grays Harbor counties.
Walsh, 54, said it means a lot to be leading in Cowlitz County, which has the largest number of voters in the district. Although the race is still close, he said the important thing is where the trend line is going.