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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

GOP On Track To Hold Washington Senate, Pick-Up House Seats

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Washington Democrats appear to have failed in their bid to retake control of the state Senate. Republicans were also poised to pick up seats in the Democratically-controlled Washington House.

Early election returns Tuesday night showed Republicans holding onto their majority in the state Senate by holding the line against Democratic challenges in half a dozen key races. Most notably in the 45th District on Seattle’s eastside where Republican Andy Hill was ahead of his Democratic challenger Matt Isenhower with 53 percent of the vote.

In other key races, Republican incumbents were leading by even more. This despite a $1 million effort by California billionaire and climate activist Tom Steyer to try to help Democrats win back the Senate.

In the Washington House, several Democratic incumbents were tied with or trailing their Republican challengers. If that trend holds, Democrats could find their majority shaved to just a seat or two.

About half the ballots have been counted as of 10 p.m..

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."