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Four votes separate Senate candidates

3:07 pm August 30th, 2012

That was close.

State Sen. Randi Becker finished four votes ahead of her challenger, Bruce Lachney, in this month’s primary election, setting up another potentially tight race this fall in the general election that will decide who represents the Second District for the next four years.

In the official combined results of voting in Pierce and Thurston counties, the new two-county area of the Second District, Becker, a Republican, finished with 9,5117 votes to Democrat Lachney’s 9,512. The tallies, released last week after election officials formally certified the outcome of voting that ended Aug. 7, made it the closest primary race anywhere in the state for seats in the Legislature.

Lachney and Becker got varying results in Pierce and Thurston counties. Becker outpolled Lachney by 1,039 votes in Pierce, where both candidates live and where 30 percent of the eligible voters in the Second District cast ballots. Lachney beat Becker by 1,034 votes in Thurston.

Both candidates have said they expect a hard-fought general election and will continue to campaign with the messages they had for the primary.

Their highly competitive primary test also was easily the tightest finish in any race involving Pierce County voters, even one that went to a recount between County Council candidates Ken Grassi and Sharon Benson. Running for the District 4 seat that represents University Place, Fircrest and parts of Tacoma, Grassi finished second and Benson third, separated by 41 votes. To confirm which one will face first-place Connie Ladenburg in the general election, county election officials began a recount last Thursday. The final result was to be certified yesterday, after today’s print editon of The Dispatch went to press.

No recount was needed in the Becker-Lachney contest because they were the two top votegetters by a wide margin in their three-candidate race.

State law requires a machine recount when the number of votes for a winning candidate or an apparent primary nominee – Grassi, in this case – and the apparently defeated opponent is less than 2,000 votes and less than half of 1 percent. Ballots with votes for Grassi and Benson were re-tabulated with the county’s vote-countting equipment.

Recounts are done manually by hand for races in which the difference is less than 150 votes and less than one-quarter of 1 percent, the situation in a primary race for precinct committee officer in Fife between Nathaniel Hackett and John Perry, who tied with 94 votes apiece.

The combined cost of the two recounts is $30,000, according to the county auditor’s office, which oversees county elections. The county will pay for the recounts, which Auditor Julie Anderson hoped would be over as quickly as possible so election workers could focus on the next election.

Voter pamphlets and ballots for the general election, in which voting will end Nov. 6, “need to be printed and ready to mail in the second week of September. It’s quite a push for us,” Anderson said.

No other results from the primary came close to forcing a recount. Besides the Becker-Lachney duel, the local contest for south Pierce County voters that was the most tightly contested was for the County Council’s District 3 seat. Republican Jim McCune finished 571 votes ahead of Democrat Marilyn Rasmussen. They’ll meet in the general election.

The voter turnout countywide for Pierce County was 36 percent.

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