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The Latest: Sawyer gains votes in updated primary returns

August 8, 2018
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On election night, Lisa Brown, Democratic candidate for Eastern Washington's 5th Congressional District, arrives at the Carpenters Hall to speak to a crowd of supporters in Spokane, Wash., Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2018. (Colin Mulvany/The Spokesman-Review via AP)

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — The Latest on the Washington state primary (all times local):

4:50 p.m.

A Washington state representative who resigned his chairmanship following allegations of inappropriate conduct was still finishing in third place in updated primary returns, but was closing in on the second spot.

Democratic Rep. David Sawyer on Wednesday was just 77 votes behind Republican Terry Harder. Democrat Melanie Morgan, a local school board member, had captured a majority of the votes from Tuesday’s primary election. Under Washington’s primary system, the top two vote getters advance to November, regardless of party.

In June, Sawyer resigned as the chairman of the House Commerce and Gaming Committee a day after an outside investigation that he violated the chamber’s policies on harassment, decorum and ethics.

The investigation found Sawyer sent a House employee multiple “inappropriate and offensive” text messages over a period of three months. It also found he made comments and jokes about another House employee’s sexual orientation, and used employees’ time to discuss a newspaper’s investigation into sexual harassment allegations against him.

Sawyer represents a district that includes parts of Tacoma.

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12:25 p.m.

Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers is challenging her Democratic opponent to three debates in the month of October.

McMorris Rodgers is the highest ranking woman in House leadership, and faces a strong challenge from Democrat Lisa Brown as she seeks an eighth term from eastern Washington’s 5th District.

In a letter, McMorris Rodgers proposed two debates in Spokane and one in Walla Walla, sponsored by business groups.

Brown says she has already accepted debate offers from two of the Spokane organizations and is waiting for an offer from the Walla Walla Chamber of Commerce, which she plans to also accept.

Brown says she would also like to have a debate on a college campus and one televised to the entire district.

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9:59 a.m.

Democrats in Washington state celebrated early primary returns as they sought to capture three GOP-held congressional districts, including one occupied by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a top GOP House leader.

In the 5th Congressional District in eastern Washington, McMorris Rodgers advanced Tuesday along with Democrat Lisa Brown.

Brown is a former chancellor of Washington State University who previously served as majority leader in the state Senate. Brown and McMorris Rodgers were nearly tied in early returns.

State Democratic Party chairwoman Tina Podlodowski said that even though many more votes need to be counted, early returns Tuesday night show that “nothing is guaranteed” for incumbent Republicans.

Democratic candidates in the state’s 3rd and 8th congressional districts were taking more of the vote than the GOP candidates.

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