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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."

A Tied Washington House? Republicans Are Two Close Races Away

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A lot has changed since election night when it looked like House Democrats were poised to gain two seats and cement their majority. Now fortunes could be changing in favor of Republicans and the Washington state House could be headed for a tie.

Republicans have taken a narrow lead in a super-tight race in the 19th District which stretches from Grays Harbor County down the coast to Cowlitz County. That’s a seat currently held by Democrats.

At this point, Republicans are confident their candidate, Jim Walsh, will ultimately prevail over Democrat Teresa Purcell. Democrats agree it will be hard to hold onto this open seat.

And in the 30th District in south King County incumbent Republican Teri Hickel is gaining on Democrat Kristine Reeves. Democrats say, despite Hickel’s gains, they’re confident Reeves will ultimately win the seat. There are still ballots to count and recounts are possible.

A recount is triggered in Washington when the gap between candidates is fewer than 2,000 votes and the gap is less than 0.5 percent. Hand recounts are mandated when fewer than 1,000 votes separate the candidates and the gap is less than 0.25 percent.

If Republicans were ultimately able to prevail in both races, they’d tie Democrats for control of the House -- something that hasn’t been seen in Washington since 2001.

There’s also a tight state Senate race in east King County’s 5th District. There Republican Chad Magendanz is closing in on Democratic incumbent Mark Mullet. At this point Republicans cling to a one-seat majority in the Washington Senate -- and that’s with Democrat Tim Sheldon who caucuses with them.

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."