OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) _ A Democratic legislator who beat a challenger by just two votes after two recounts was sworn in Monday after the state Supreme Court denied a Republican challenge.
The court still must rule on whether it will allow a third recount in the closest legislative race in state history.
Attorneys for the Republican State Committee petitioned for a temporary restraining order minutes before the court opened its January term.
Democratic Rep. Evan Jones was sworn in with his collegues when the Legislature convened at noon. Jones defeated Republican challenger Ann Goos last November.
When the votes first were counted, Jones was ahead by five votes. A mechanical recount gave Goos a one-vote edge. Jones then demanded a scond recount - this time by hand - and moved ahead by three votes.
That result was certified by state election officials Dec. 17.
Then, on Thursday, officials in two counties found five uncounted absentee ballots. Jones retained the victory after they were counted, but his margin slipped to two votes.
Jennifer Dunn, Republican state chairwoman, said the party wants the recount because the results in all three of the district’s counties are still uncertain.
″All three of the vote counts reported by Clallam, Jefferson and Grays Harbor counties to the secretary of state have been different,″ Dunn said. ″The winner has changed with each count.
″It is clear that nobody knows whom the voters of the 24th District elected to represent them,″ she said.
Many voters say they wonder whether their votes were counted, Goos said Sunday.
Jones said the Republicans should give up.
″There has to be a time when this is declared over,″ he said Monday. ″I think it’s time for them to throw in the towel.″