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48th District candidates in tight races

With more than half of all votes in the 48th Legislative District returned, two of the three races, for the seats of incumbents Rep. Ross Hunter and Sen. Rodney Tom, remain too close to call.

Hunter leads Republican opponent Diane Tebelius by less than 900 votes, with 28,000 counted.

"We are leading, and I think it's a good sign overall," Hunter said at a Democrat Rally at the Hyatt Regency Bellevue Tuesday night. "I'm feeling pretty confident at this point."

The campaign became a hotly contested one because of the state of the economy, Hunter said. Voters are nervous about the situation facing the state, he said.

Tebelius went further, saying the people weren't nervous, they were fed up. They wanted to see representatives in Olympia who will be more fiscally conservative, like Tebelius, a former math teacher, says she will be.

"We need to reset government," she said. "It cannot pay its expense. We have huge deficits that continue to grow and Olympia can't seem to add."

Of the three district races, the contest between Gregg Bennett and Sen. Tom is the closest, with the two candidates separated by a mere 300 votes.

Bennett held an early lead, but when Wednesday's results were released, Tom took slight control.

Bennett said the results are about where he expected them to be, and he hopes the independent vote, which usually comes in later, will put him over the top. At this point though, it's anyone's guess, he said.

Tom said he was prepared for the race to become a nail-biter. It will likely take several days before the outcome is clear.

Both candidates ran the race with the tenacity that its closeness elicited. Both candidates have attacked the others' background and credentials and sent out insulting mail materials. Tom said the Republican Party has stooped to a low position to try and win as much as possible.

"They use to bleed integrity and decency and doing the right thing," he said. "I think that no longer applies; it's just win baby win."

Bennett, who is running for public office for the first time, said he was caught off-guard early on in the campaign by some of the materials.

"Things were happening in a political sense that I wouldn't consider fair in a business sense," he said. "It was a baptism by fire and we had to toughen up."

Deb Eddy held the largest lead among the three Democratic incumbents (56-44) over her opponent Philip Wilson.

Eddy said at the Democratic rally that volunteers and voters have made it possible for the Democratic party to work to fix the state.

Wilson, like other Republican candidates, is hoping the independent vote will swing the election his way. He hopes some of the last minute campaigning will help get some extra votes in the mail with his name checked.

"Obviously, we'd like better results," he said. "But there's still a lot of votes to count, so we'll see what happens."

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