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Dems Take Presidency, Lead In Gov's Race; Republicans Sweeping County, District Contests

Election 2008

It was projected as a very difficult year for the Republican Party. That analysis proved true for Republicans nationally, but in local and regional contests, the Republicans -- long dominant in Klickitat County -- performed very well.

The evening's biggest race was the one that decided who would serve as president of the United States for the next four years, and it wasn't really close. With votes to spare, Democratic Party nominee Barack Obama won the presidency. Obama's national landslide included capturing Washington state's 11 electoral votes as he rolled up a 53.4 percent-44.7 percent margin over Republican John McCain.

Obama becomes the first American of African descent to be elected to the presidency.

Obama's historic win included an unusually strong showing in Klickitat County. Obama was carrying the county with 50.3 percent of the vote -- McCain had 47.6 percent -- in incomplete returns as of 8:45 p.m. on Nov. 4.

In the governor's race, Dino Rossi, Republican, again was trailing in his bid to beat incumbent Gov. Chris Gregoire, a Democrat seeking a second four-year term.

Although Gregoire won by fewer than 150 votes four years ago, the results do not appear to be quite so close this time. In unofficial and still incomplete returns, Gregoire was ahead by about 25,000 votes in the rematch of the 2004 contest.

On the local level, however, Republicans continued their strong dominance over Democratic Party challengers.

In the two open races for seats on the Klickitat County Board of Commissioners, incumbents Ray Thayer of Goldendale and Rex Johnston of White Salmon were leading. Thayer had a 50.6 percent to 49.5 percent lead over Democrat Jerry Gaines of Bickelton, and Johnston was leading Lea Rachford of Husum by 52.8 percent to 47.2 percent in incomplete returns.

It was largely the same story in the two legislative district races, where incumbent Republican State Rep. Dan Newhouse, representing Washington's 15th Legislative District in the Legislature, was ahead of challenger Tao Berman of White Salmon by a 62.3 percent-37.7 percent margin for the right to serve a two-year term in the Legislature.

Similarly, incumbent Republican Bruce Chandler was handily out in front of Democratic Party challenger John Gotts, a White Salmon resident, 60.7 percent-39.3 percent.

Republicans also kept a tight grip on the Fourth Congressional District, as incumbent U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings was well ahead of his Democratic Party challenger, George Fearing, by a margin of 62.2 percent-37.9 percent. Hastings is going after an eighth two-year term.

In neighboring Skamania County, meanwhile, two Republican incumbents serving on the three-member Skamania County Board of Commissioners appeared to be headed to re-election. Jim Richardson of Carson was leading Democrat Bruce Scherling of Stevenson in one race, while Republican Paul Pearce of Washougal was well ahead of Democrat Honna Sheffield of Skamania in the other contest.

In the Third District race for U.S. Congress, meanwhile, incumbent U.S. Rep. Brian Baird, Democrat, held a big lead over his Republican challenger, Michael Delavar, 63.8 percent-36.2 percent. Baird is seeking his sixth two-year term in Congress.

In what was perhaps the most controversial of the three statewide measures on the Nov. 4 ballot, Initiative Measure No. 1000 -- which would permit terminally ill citizens to opt for lethal medication to end their lives -- was being approved by Washington voters. The "Yes" votes to approve the "death with dignity" law was leading the "No" votes by a 56.5 percent-43.5 percent margin in initial returns.

As of 10 p.m. on Nov. 4, the turnout in Klickitat County -- with an undetermined number of ballots yet to come in -- stood at 54 percent.

All election results are incomplete and unofficial, as ballots only needed to be postmarked by Nov. 4 in order to be counted. The vote totals will be updated in next week's issue of The Enterprise.

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