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Close, but no recounts as final ballots tallied

The 26th Legislative District’s close races have finally wrapped up — and this time there’s no recounts looming.

Sen. Bob Oke, R-Port Orchard, maintained his slim lead over Gig Harbor challenger Betty Ringlee to win a fourth term by 343 votes, while Lois McMahan took away Rep. Brock Jackley’s, D-Man-chester, Position 2 seat by just 522 votes.

But each race was above the one half of 1 percent margin that demands an automatic recount, according to Kitsap County Elections Manager Delores Gil-more.

The third race in the 26th District lost all of the drama it had in the primary when Port Orchard resident Ed Mitchell beat fellow Republican Kevin Entze to face Rep. Pat Lantz, D-Gig Har-bor, this month for her Position 1 seat. Lantz held a comfortable, nearly 10-percentage-point lead for much of the counting, and ended with 21,568 votes to Mitchell’s 18,157.

Oke’s victory not only means he will add to his 12 years in office, but that Republicans take the voting power away from the Democrats in the state senate, holding a 25-24 majority in the 49-member Senate.

Oke said he knew all along that the GOP’s chance for a power grab could rest with him.

“I knew all along that the big target was me,” said Oke. “The Democrats went at me with both barrels.”

Oke said he was happy for a victory, not just for his party but for his constituents. He said his 12 years of experience is especially important with a budget crisis looming for the state.

“It wasn’t time to bring in a rookie,” Oke said, who was recently named chairman of the senate’s Parks, Fish and Wildlife Committee.

Oke said he was also looking forward to tackling other issues now that can take his focus off the new Tacoma Narrows Bridge. One of them, he said, will be coming up with an alternative to the 9-cent gas tax Referendum 51, earmarked for road and traffic improvements, which the voters rejected 1,081,580 votes to 674,724.

“We’ll have to look at the bill and try and understand what turned people off so badly,” Oke said.

Ringlee said she thought she did an incredible job campaigning with not nearly the money or the name recognition as Oke, and said she has a hard time believing the district wanted him for another term.

McMahan said she hadn’t been waiting for the county certification to start celebrating her victory over Rep. Jackley.

“We started celebrating the first night when we went over 50 percent,” said McMahan.

She said she was also relieved and pleased that the county would not be recounting the ballots.

“I am tickled to death that there won’t be a recount,” she said.

McMahan said though right now she is mostly concentrating on spending time with her family and preparing for the holidays, she already has legislation in mind to propose for her first day in Olympia on Jan. 13.

Although the county is not planning any recounts, Gilmore said candidates can request one for their race, though they have to pay for the process, startign with a deposit of around 15 cents a ballot.

Gilmore also said since the 26th District spans both Kitsap and Pierce Counties, candidates in those races wanting a recount need to wait for the state to certify its results on Dec. 5, and request one through the Secretary of State’s Office.

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