Cantwell retains her slim lead over Gorton for Senate

Herald news services

OLYMPIA — With all but three of Washington’s 39 counties reporting, a statewide recount appears to be affirming a narrow Senate victory by Democrat Maria Cantwell over Republican incumbent Slade Gorton.

A Democratic victory would put the U.S. Senate in a 50-50 tie. However, Republicans would still hold an advantage under a George W. Bush presidency since the vice president breaks ties in Senate votes.

By Thursday night, Cantwell led Gorton by 1,957 votes. The recount was expected to be finished today.

State law requires a machine recount whenever the margin is less than half of 1 percent. King, Pierce and Douglas counties have yet to finish their recounts, which started Monday.

The ballots were all inspected before the first count, so the recount simply involves running them through the machine again. The deadline is Dec. 7.

  • Quake would break bridges, consultant says: Bridges and overpasses on I-5 would likely collapse in a major earthquake in the Puget Sound region, a consultant has reported. As many as 13 bridges would probably be badly damaged in a quake of 6.5 magnitude along the Seattle Fault, which extends beneath Puget Sound, the city’s downtown area and the suburbs east of Lake Washington, according to findings released by the risk consulting firm EQE. A similar earthquake on a fault believed to run beneath Tacoma would probably knock down freeway and railroad bridges over the Puyallup River, said Steve Bailey, county director of emergency management.

  • Winlock man gets lighter sentence in burglaries: Okanogan County Superior Court Commissioner Chris Culp could have sentenced Mike Wheeler to prison for more than six years, but opted Wednesday for a lesser sentence that includes drug-abuse treatment. Wheeler, 26, of Winlock, pleaded guilty Oct. 31 to three counts of residential burglary, second-degree burglary, theft of a firearm, possession of methamphetamine, attempting to elude a pursuing police vehicle and possession of stolen property. Wheeler was shot last Dec. 20 by sheriff’s Deputy Connie Humphrey during his arrest along the remote Aeneas Valley Road southeast of Tonasket. Humphrey was cleared of criminal culpability, but a civil claim is still pending against Okanogan County. Wheeler is asking for $750,000 in damages, alleging he had both hands in the air when he was shot.

  • Air India bombing suspects ordered to remain in custody: Two suspects in the 1985 Air India bombing that killed 329 people were ordered Thursday to remain in custody until another court appearance on Jan. 31. A lawyer for one of the suspects, Ripudaman Singh Malik, said he would apply for Malik to be released on bail sometime in the next three weeks. Also Thursday, Canadian police said more arrests in the case were anticipated, and that a witness expected to testify when a trial starts has complained of being threatened. Police did not elaborate. Malik and Ajaib Singh Bagri face eight charges, including first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder, in the June 23, 1985, bombing that sent Air India Flight 182 down off the Irish coast, the deadliest terrorist attack ever against an airplane.

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