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Latest count puts Larsen ahead of Koster

ARLINGTON — It was a race that pitted one Arlington native against another, and by the final night of their campaigns, one of the few things that both candidates could agree on was that it was still too soon to say how it would turn out.

Although U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen initially trailed Snohomish County Council member John Koster in the early returns of the Congressional District 2 race on the evening of Election Day Nov. 2, the following day saw him overtake his opponent. As of Nov. 4, Democratic incumbent Larsen had received 105,358 counted votes, or 50.38 percent of the counted vote, while Republican challenger Koster had received 103,752 counted votes, or 49.62 percent of the counted vote, with 75 percent of the expected total votes counted.

Although Larsen still deemed it a close race, in a press statement issued on Nov. 3 he expressed confidence that he would retain his newly gained lead once all the votes were counted.

“Today we took the lead,” Larsen said Nov. 3. “The numbers released tonight are trending my direction in every county in the 2nd District. I took 54.61 percent of the 21,010 votes counted today.”

Larsen thanked those whose hard work he credited with helping him run what he deemed a smart, successful campaign.

“Today’s numbers show that the people of the 2nd District want a leader who will stay focused on local issues like making sure the Air Force Tanker is in northwest Washington, and helping our local small businesses grow and start hiring again,” Larsen said Nov. 3. “The people of the Second District want to move us forward, not return us to the failed policies of the past. That is why I remain confident that I will win this election. I look forward to a swift resolution to this election and continuing to represent the people of northwest Washington.”

At 11 p.m. on Election Night Nov. 2, when he still held a narrow lead over Larsen, Koster expressed optimism over the returns but laughed as he said, “I’m not ready to declare victory yet. But if this follows the pattern of the primary, our lead should stretch out even more as more votes are counted.”

Koster expressed his gratitude to the number of voters who gave of their time and resources to support his campaign, which he deemed reflective of larger trends nationwide.

“It’s not about me, or about Democrats and Republicans,” Koster said. “It’s about people who want their country back on track from high unemployment and deficit spending. They’re very unhappy with the health care bill and the way it was passed. This is a referendum on the past couple of years, not just here but across the country.

“Everyone worked as hard as they could have,” he added. “I have no regrets about how this campaign was run.”

Koster Campaign Manager Larry Stickney voiced his concerns about the vote counts of the Nov. 3 returns on the following day.

“It’s odd that Larsen had a statewide uptick overnight,” Stickney said Nov. 4. “They counted a lot of urban areas, so we expected to recede a little bit, but we should still be able to eke out a victory.”

State law requires a recount if the final count places the two candidates less than 2,000 votes apart and less than one-half of 1 percent of the total votes cast for both candidates. A hand recounts will be required if the difference is fewer than 150 votes and less than one-quarter of 1 percent.

Stickney pledged that Koster campaign workers would observe any such state auditor recounts closely to safeguard against any potential discrepancies.

“We’ll have our people on the ground at all the offices,” Stickney said. “We’ll also request bipartisan observers from the House of Representatives.

“I’m not insinuating anything other than that this is the state of Washington,” he added. “Nobody will be stealing an election on our watch.”

Larsen’s fellow Democratic incumbent, U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, likewise came from behind to take a slim lead over her Republican challenger, Dino Rossi. Murray’s 925,145 counted votes gave her 51.29 of the counted vote, while Rossi’s 878,572 counted votes gave him 48.71 percent of the counted vote, with 78 percent of the expected total votes counted by Nov. 4.

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