Incumbent 19th District state Rep. Jim Walsh handily secured a slot on the November ballot in Tuesday’s primary election, but the race for his Democratic challenger remained too close to call in preliminary returns.
Montesano’s Marianna Everson was 783 votes ahead of Clint Bryson in the first wave of results, with 22.9% of the vote to Bryson’s 20.5%.
“I’m just so excited to be able to be in this position right now, so grateful to all the volunteers and people helping out,” Everson said. “It’s amazing to me, with no infrastructure for progressives in the district, that we could pull out so far and do so well. ... I want the people to know that I’m fighting for them. I’m going to keep fighting for them, and we’re going to pull this out and win the general election so everyone can have a dignified life.”
Only the first wave of returns from Tuesday night was available as of Wednesday afternoon.
Meanwhile, Walsh commanded 56.5% of the vote in the five-county district, which includes Longview, Kelso and everything west of the Cowlitz River. He won more votes than both of his opponents combined.
“I think I’ve been an aggressive fighter for this district, Cowlitz County and the 19th,” Walsh said Tuesday evening. “I’m going to continue to be an aggressive fighter. I think that’s what the people of this area want.”
In Cowlitz County specifically, Walsh grabbed 56.1% of the vote. Everson and Bryson were separated by 166 votes, with 22.4% and 21.3% of the ballots, respectively.
“We expected it was going to be a close race from the beginning,” said Bryson, who also is from Montesano. “I think these results show that. Turnout’s been higher already compared to 2016, and there will be more ballots counted. ... I’m hopeful later ballots will turn out our way.”
The race is going to come down to bread-and-butter issues such as jobs, education and healthcare, Bryson said.
Everson, pitching herself as “an FDR Democrat,” is running on a suite of progressive reforms such as investing in green energy, pushing a state universal single-payer healthcare bill and addressing COVID-19 budget shortfalls through new taxes on the wealthiest members of society.
Walsh is running for his third term fighting for conservative values in the 19th and against urban Puget Sound lawmakers, arguing that surgical budget cuts and new leadership at some state agencies is crucial for the region and state’s health.
Bryson has placed himself in the middle of the two, focusing on “cutting through the rhetoric” in Olympia. A combination of measured budget cuts and investment in new projects will see the state through its looming budget crisis, he has argued.
Meanwhile, the race for the other 19th District house seat featured something of a surprise. Republican challenger Joel McEntire of Cathlamet led incumbent state Rep. Brian Blake, an Aberdeen Democrat, with 52.4% of the vote. Blake had 47.4% of the vote. Both candidates move to the general election because a third candidate did not file for the seat. Blake has held the seat since 2002.
McEntire won 53.7% of the vote in Cowlitz County.
Note: This story has been updated with Wednesday's election results.
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