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Updated Tuesday, November 27, 2012 at 10:33 PM

Recount to decide Senate contest

By Keith Ervin
Seattle Times staff reporter

Republicans appear to have gained a seat in the state Senate, but that won't be certain until completion of an automatic manual recount in the 17th District race between Sen. Don Benton and Rep. Tim Probst.

County election officials around the state certified results of the election Tuesday and ordered a few recounts.

Benton led Probst by 78 votes out of nearly 59,000 ballots cast, for a lead of just 0.14 percent, necessitating a hand recount.

If the recount in Clark County confirms the victory of Benton, a former state GOP chairman, it would reduce the Democrats' Senate majority to 26-23 and could give Republicans a shot at effective control.

Republicans and Sen. Rodney Tom, D-Medina, have discussed the possibility of electing Tom leader of a coalition majority. Tom and Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch, have sided with Republicans on some key issues, including the budget.

Unless recounts change the outcome of two other close races, Republicans will pick up one seat in the House, leaving Democrats with a still-comfortable 55-43 majority.

In the race for Probst's former House seat, 17th District, Democrat Monica Stonier led Republican Julie Olson by 139 votes, setting the stage for a manual recount.

A machine recount will be held in the 47th District, where Republican Rep. Mark Hargrove led Democrat Bud Sizemore by 157 votes. The district includes parts of Auburn, Covington and Kent.

Keith Ervin: 206-464-2105 or kervin@seattletimes.com



Rep. Tim Probst





Sen. Don Benton




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