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A few surprises in early Primary Election results in Clark County

The current county chair could be on his way out, and another county council incumbent is in a dogfight

CLARK COUNTY — The 2018 edition of the primary election in Clark County held a few twists for candidates, at least if initial results hold up.

In initial returns, posted just after polls closed at 8 p.m. tonight, 73,320 votes had been tallied — just under 26 percent voter turnout. Clark County Auditor Greg Kimsey estimated that 25,000-27,000 votes remained to be counted, meaning some of the closer races could see dramatic changes in the coming days. Kimsey estimated the final turnout could approach 40 percent, which would rank among the highest voter turnout for a primary election in state history. The next unofficial vote count is expected to be released Wednesday afternoon.

Cars line up outside the ballot drop box in downtown Vancouver less than an hour before the deadline on Tuesday. Photo by Chris Brown
Cars line up outside the ballot drop box in downtown Vancouver less than an hour before the deadline on Tuesday. Photo by Chris Brown

A possible surprise is building in the race for Clark County Chair. Marc Boldt, the incumbent, trailed newcomer Eric Holt by 974 votes in the initial returns. Boldt, who ran as a Republican in the past, stated no party preference for this race. Holt ran as a democrat. Current District 4 Councilor Eileen Quiring, who is running as a Republican, had a comfortable 13 percentage point lead over Holt.

“Christy Stanley, who dropped out and endorsed me, if you take those 15,000 votes and add them to mine, we’d be ahead of Eileen right now,” said Holt. “So I really feel great about this. I know I’m gonna split Marc Boldt’s votes, so we have an absolute possible chance of winning this council chair race hands down.”

With around 25,000 votes left to be counted, Eric Holt has a narrow lead on incumbent Clark County Chair Marc Boldt. If the results hold, he would face Eileen Quiring in November. Photo by Chris Brown
With around 25,000 votes left to be counted, Eric Holt has a narrow lead on incumbent Clark County Chair Marc Boldt. If the results hold, he would face Eileen Quiring in November. Photo by Chris Brown

Since Washington has a top two primary, a loss by Boldt would mean he would not be on the ballot in November, and off the council at the beginning of next year.

In the Clark County Council District 1 race, incumbent Jeanne Stewart is locked in a tight contest with two other candidates. Jim Moeller currently trails Stewart by just 162 points, with Temple Lentz currently leading Stewart by just over 100 votes. Lentz and Moeller are both running as democrats, so there is a possibility that two democrats could face off for that seat in November.

Temple Lentz is headed to November in the race for Clark County Council District 1. The race for second place between incumbent Jeanne Stewart and Jim Moeller is neck-and-neck. Photo by Chris Brown
Temple Lentz is headed to November in the race for Clark County Council District 1. The race for second place between incumbent Jeanne Stewart and Jim Moeller is neck-and-neck. Photo by Chris Brown

Another surprise came in the form of the race for Vancouver’s Position 1 City Council seat. Laurie Lebowsky, who was named to the seat by the council after Scott Campbell passed away shortly before winning last November, had just over 42 percent of the vote. But the surprise came for Sarah Fox, currently a senior planner for the city of Camas, who appears to be headed for the ballot in November.

“Tonight I was at the Ghostrunners Brewery with a bunch of my supporters,and we were just sitting around until the results came, and assuming that I was going to have a good show, and… yeah,” Fox says, shaking her head. When they realized she was likely headed to the ballot in November, they raced to the 6th floor of the county building in downtown Vancouver where candidates were lining up to speak with Clark-Vancouver TV, which was providing live coverage of the results.

The race for Vancouver City Council Position 1 appears to be between newcomer Sarah Fox (pictured) and incumbent Laurie Lebowsky who is seeking election to finish out the term of Scott Stewart. Photo by Chris Brown
The race for Vancouver City Council Position 1 appears to be between newcomer Sarah Fox (pictured) and incumbent Laurie Lebowsky who is seeking election to finish out the term of Scott Campbell, who passed away prior to the last election. Photo by Chris Brown

Vancouver may soon be looking to fill another vacant council seat. Current Councilor Alishia Topper, who is running for Clark County treasurer to replace the retiring Doug Lasher, held a comfortable 38 percentage point lead over Robert Hinds, though the two will still have to face off in the November general election.

Many of the other races, especially some of the state congressional races, had only two candidates, so the top two primary means Tuesday’s election is more of a poll of which way voters may be leaning come November. Both 18th District races appear to be tight, with Republican Brandon Vick just barely edging out Chris Thobaben by just under 300 votes for Position 1.

In the other 18th District race, which Republican Liz Pike will be leaving after deciding to leave politics, Kathy Gillespie, running as a Democrat, leads Republican Larry Hoff by nearly 7 percentage points.

The other surprise came from the 17th District, Position 2 race, in which longtime incumbent Republican Paul Harris leads, but only by 8.5 percentage points over political newcomer Damion Jiles, Sr.

“Nothing against Damion, but Damion didn’t do a whole lot,” said Harris, “put up a sign or two, and he got almost 45 percent of the vote.”

In the 17th District, Position 1, Republican incumbent Vicki Kraft has a lead over Tanisha Harris, who is running as a Democrat, but by less than 1,000 votes. James Tolson, who also ran as a democrat, took in just over 1,600 votes. If his supporters come over to Harris’ side, it could be a race to watch come November.

In the 3rd Congressional race, incumbent Jaime Herrera Beutler will move on to November, but trailed Democrat challenger Carolyn Long 41 to 38 percent in Clark County. With the entire district taken into account, Herrera Beutler held a 41 to 37 percentage point lead over Long.

Herrera Beutler’s seat that many pundits have pegged as potentially being vulnerable in November, is likely to be one of the more closely watched mid-term elections in the country.

In the US Senate race, incumbent Maria Cantwell took in over half the votes in a race featuring 29 candidates (55 percent statewide, just under 51 percent in Clark County). She will face Republican Susan Hutchison, a former news producer and chair of the state Republican party until a few months ago. Hutchison will be facing an uphill battle against Cantwell who has over $10 million already in her campaign warchest. So far Hutchison has raised just over half a million dollars.

For a full list of initial election results, click here. Remember, somewhere around 25,000 ballots are still left to be counted due to last minute returns. ClarkCountyToday.com will continue to monitor results and update this story as warranted. Also, watch for more coverage with reaction from the winning candidates in the coming days.

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About The Author

Chris Brown comes to Clark County Today with 15 years of local news experience as a reporter, editor, and anchor at KXL News Radio and KOIN-6 TV in Portland. In 2016, he won an Oregon Association of Broadcaster's award for Best Investigative Reporting for a series on America's Violent Youth. He has also been awarded by the Associated Press for Best Breaking News coverage as editor of Portland's Morning News following the 2015 school shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. The second oldest of eight home-schooled children, Brown graduated from high school two years early. After several odd jobs, he earned an internship at KXL Radio, eventually working his way into a full-time job. Brown has lived in Clark County his entire life, and is very excited at the opportunity to now focus full-time on the significant stories happening in his own back yard, rather than across “the river.’’ After a few years in Vancouver, he recently moved back to Battle Ground with his wife and two young daughters. When he's not working to report what's happening in Clark County, Brown enjoys spending time with his family, playing music, taking pictures, or working in the yard. He also actually does enjoy long walks on the beach, and sunsets.

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