Democrat Tim Probst re-gained a minuscule lead over Republican incumbent Don Benton in the 17th District Senate race, according to updated election results released Friday. Sixteen votes is all that separates the candidates.
On Election Day, Probst had a 222-vote lead. After more votes were tallied on Thursday, Benton pulled ahead by 62 votes. The race for Benton’s 17th District seat and the race to fill Probst’s 17th District House seat are likely to prompt recounts.
More than 8,500 ballots from across Clark County still need to be tallied by elections officials.
Probst said by phone Friday evening that this race reminds him of the Cleveland Brown’s 1980 NFL team — dubbed the “Kardiac Kids” — because “every game came down to the very last second. ... I knew I was taking on an 18-year incumbent and chose to do that because it was the right thing to do, even though it wasn’t the easy thing to do. I’m just glad that it’s still this close.”
Rather than seek election to a third House term, Probst ran to unseat Benton. More than $1.1 million was spent on the race by the candidates and their supporters. Currently, Democrats hold a 27-22 majority in the Senate.
In the race for Probst’s seat in the House of Representatives, Democrat Monica Stonier took the lead over Republican Julie Olson. Stonier leads Olson by 81 votes. Olson had an Election Day lead of 78 votes.
The state House has a 56-42 Democratic majority.
A total of 13,628 ballots were counted Friday at the Clark County Elections Office. Of those, 5,614 were from the 17th Legislative District.
Ballots had to be postmarked by Tuesday, so some will continue to trickle in through the mail in the coming days, said Elections Supervisor Tim Likness.
If Friday’s results were the final results, a recount would commence for both legislative races, Likness said.
County election officials begin a recount in races that are closer than 2,000 votes and closer than one half of a percentage point. On Friday, Benton had 49.91 percent of the vote while Probst had 49.94 percent of the vote. Olson had 49.88 percent of the vote, while Stonier had 50.04 percent.
By Friday, the Clark County Elections Department had received 192,570 of the 243,155 ballots sent to registered voters in the general election.
That’s a voter turnout of 79.2 percent.