Late ballots to decide governor's race

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OLYMPIA — Washington state’s race for governor hung on late ballots Wednesday, with election officials estimating hundreds of thousands of votes were left to count.

Democrat Jay Inslee held a promising lead after nearly 2 million votes were counted Tuesday, carrying 51 percent of ballots. Republican Rob McKenna was struggling in King County, which also held many of the votes still left to count.

Still, McKenna remained optimistic he could become the first GOP governor in about three decades, telling supporters they would have to wait a few more days as mail ballots continued to arrive at county offices.

“This year, it will be worth the wait,” McKenna said Tuesday night.

Although some races remain undecided, Democrats in Washington won big in key federal contests and were in position to potentially claim every statewide executive office — something they haven’t done since the 1960s. Republicans held a very slight lead in only one statewide race — secretary of state — and that’s an office they’ve held continuously since 1965. Democrat Bob Ferguson led Republican Reagan Dunn in the hard-fought attorney general’s race.

Perhaps the best consolation to conservatives was the passage of an initiative that requires lawmakers to have a two-thirds majority to raise taxes. That rule provides the GOP with the power to block tax-raising budgets in Olympia, although the state Supreme Court is currently considering whether it is constitutional. Another measure to develop charter schools in the state was in a tossup Tuesday night.

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