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Grandview's Wallace trails in race for county seat

Talk about too close to call.

Yesterday's primary race for the County Commissioner, District 3, seat is about as tight as it gets on the Republican side, as Rand Elliott of Moxee leads Mike Wallace of Grandview by 25 votes.

The third district covers an area that runs from a portion of Yakima to the Lower Valley cities of Sunnyside and Grandview.

As of the last count reported by the Yakima County Auditor's office, Elliott leads 967 votes to 942, or 41.15 percent to 40.09.

A third Republican seeking the seat now held by Jesse Palacios, who did not run for re-election, was Dan Olson of Union Gap, who received 18.55 percent of that party's vote.

"It's certainly not surprising," Elliott said of the close outcome. "Especially with a three-way vote, you never know what will happen."

If his advantage stands, Elliott said he will commit to regular visits in the Lower Valley.

"I think the biggest thing I have to do is be a presence down there," he said.

Elliott noted that will include either once a month or twice a month open, town hall type meetings in the Lower Valley where he will be available to receive comments and concerns from Lower Valley residents.

Wallace, too, said he expected a tight race, and noted there are still thousands of votes to tally countywide.

In fact, the county still has between 13,000 and 14,000 votes to count, based on the number received today. "We got a ton in today," said Kathy Fisher, elections office coordinator for the county.

Of that number, about 4,000-not including the ballots received today-are from the County Commissioner, third district, area and could impact the outcome of that race.

The county's heavy mail call today means voter response has bumped up from 28 percent as of yesterday to 33 percent.

And that's pretty comparable to the turnout of 36 percent in the 2002 primary, the most recent non-presidential primary.

Fisher said there may have been some people who didn't vote in the primary because of a judge's decision that required the state to do away with the blanket primary.

"For having a pick-a-party ballot I think we're doing pretty good," said Fisher.

Even with the votes still out there, Wallace is cautious about his chances.

"Not all of those are going to be from the Lower Valley, of course," he said. "If a lot of those votes (to be counted) are from the Lower Valley, and I'm their candidate, then we'll see."

In either case, Wallace said he's enjoyed the run for office.

"It's been very interesting, I've enjoyed every minute of it," he said. "I've learned a lot about what the voters of Yakima County are interested in."

Wallace and Elliott both pledged they would not seek a recount if they end up on the losing side of a close vote. Elections decided by a half-percentage point or less are automatically recounted.

Whoever wins the Republican side of the primary will face Democratic winner Earl Lee in the November general election.

In other primary races, Fourth District Congressman Doc Hastings outdistanced Republican primary challenger Claude Oliver.

"I'm honored by the strong support voters have given me," Hastings said. In the November general election he will face Democratic primary winner Richard Wright.

U.S. Senate incumbent Maria Cantwell easily won the Democratic primary and will face Republican challenger Mike McGavick, who won handily in his party's primary.

"It has been the greatest honor to represent Washington in the Senate and I hope to earn that honor again in November," Cantwell said. "During the next seven weeks, I'll continue my work putting Washington first in the Senate, and I'll keep traveling the state to hear from you about the issues that matter to you."

McGavick, too, looked ahead to November.

"I'm going to keep traveling the state and inviting whole towns out to talk about the issues that face us," he said. "That's the essence of public service, learning the ideas and concerns of the people you represent."

In state legislative races, 15th District House incumbents Bruce Chandler and Dan Newhouse were unopposed in the Republican primary and will face Democratic challengers Glen Howard Pinkham and William Yallup, respectively.

State Senate incumbent Jim Honeyford (R) of the 15th District was also unopposed in the primary and will face Democrat Tomas Villanueva in November.

The Yakima County Auditor's office will provide the latest vote count after 4:30 p.m. each work day until they are all tabulated.

The county will certify the primary outcome on Friday, Sept. 29.

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