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Dec. 3, 2021

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First results: Herrera Beutler leads Long; Kraft trails

Clark voters favor most incumbents

By , Columbian Editor

In an era when some citizens are ardently demanding change, Clark County voters have widely re-elected incumbents, according to the first batch of results released Tuesday evening.

First-results leaders included Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler and eight of nine members of Clark County’s legislative delegation. However, local voters were favoring Joe Biden over Donald Trump.

In the 3rd Congressional District, Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground, is seeking her sixth term. Herrera Beutler had outpolled Democrat Carolyn Long by almost 40,000 votes in the five-way August primary. Both parties then threw millions of dollars into the general election campaign, with attack ads running back-to-back for weeks on Portland television.

Tuesday’s early districtwide results showed Herrera Beutler with 54.07 percent of the vote to Long’s 45.69 percent. In Clark County, Long was ahead, 50.74 percent to 49.26 percent. In 2018, Herrera Beutler won the district, which includes all or part of eight counties, by five percentage points.

Legislative races

One upset is potentially brewing in local legislative races. In the 17th District, Republican Rep. Vicki Kraft, who earlier this year flouted face mask recommendations and spoke at civil disobedience rallies protesting Gov. Jay Inslee’s COVID-19 “Stay Safe” orders, trailed Democrat Tanisha Harris by 1,612 votes out of 65,162 cast.

In the Senate race, incumbent Republican Lynda Wilson took a lead of almost 4 percentage points, and Rep. Paul Harris R-Vancouver, was easily re-elected after his opponent dropped out.

In the 18th District, a write-in campaign for conservative Republican Tom Mielke appears to have fallen short, with incumbent Sen. Ann Rivers, R-La Center. Her 40,975 votes leads both Democrat Rick Bell, who polled 33,317 and 2,162 write-in ballots, most presumably for Mielke. The campaign to unseat Rivers was funded by conservative Republican activists, including former county commissioner David Madore, who consider her positions on some issues to be too moderate. In the House races, Republicans Brandon Vick and Larry Hoff were headed for victory.

The 49th District, which includes Vancouver’s west side, remained true to the blue, with Democratic Sen. Annette Cleveland and Reps. Sharon Wylie and Monica Stonier all leading their GOP challengers.

County council

In District 3, Republican Karen Bowerman surprisingly trailed Democrat Jesse James after winning the most votes in a three-way primary in August. James’ lead was 1,110 votes, or 2.5 percentage points. In District 4 Republican incumbent Gary Medvigy won election to a four-year term.

In Washougal

Finally, voters in Washougal appeared to endorse two ballot measures. The first would designate one city council position as the mayor, which would in effect allow the citizens to directly elect the mayor. Currently, the city council chooses one of its members to act as mayor. The other proposition, renewing a tax levy to fund fire and emergency medical services, also was leading.

Tuesday’s count included 220,476 ballots, or 67.91 percent of the approximately 324,000 eligible voters. The next update is scheduled for late Wednesday afternoon. Auditor Greg Kimsey has predicted total turnout will reach 90 percent or more by the time the last ballots are tabulated and the final results are certified on Nov. 24.