WALLA WALLA — Voters in Legislative District 16 have returned three local incumbents to their seats in the state House and Senate.
Maureen Walsh, who was running for her fifth term for the state Representative Position 1 seat and Mike Hewitt, running for re-election to the state Senate, were both leading their opponents according to preliminary results posted Tuesday.
The third candidate, Dayton attorney Terry Nealey, is running unopposed for the District 16 Position 2 seat in the state House. Legislative District 16 covers all of Walla Walla and Columbia counties as well as portions of Benton and Franklin counties.
Although Walsh had faced criticism during the race for her stance in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage and voters in all four counties in the district overwhelmingly rejected Referendum 74 to legalize it, that issue did not appear to have tipped the balance in the race.
As of Tuesday night, Walsh was leading Mary Ruth Edwards with about 57 percent of the vote to Edwards’ 43 percent. Initial vote returns showed Walsh with 14,485 votes to Edwards’ 11,075, according to the Secretary of State’s election office.
Both women had listed their party preference as Republican Party.
Hewitt was holding a commanding lead over Scott Nettles with about 71 percent of the vote to Nettles’ 29 percent. Preliminary returns had Hewitt with 19,457 votes to Nettles’ 7,973. Hewitt has listed his party preference as Republican Party while Nettles listed his as Democratic Party.
Walsh is a College Place resident and Edwards is a resident of Prosser.
Nealey had garnered 21,962 votes as of Tuesday night, according to preliminary results. He also listed his party preference as Republican Party.
Thousands of votes remain to be counted.