OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler has been re-elected to her fifth term in Congress after defeating Democrat Carolyn Long in a race that drew national attention to a seat Democrats had hoped to flip.
Updated vote tallies Wednesday showed Herrera Beutler holding a 53 percent lead over Long.
Herrera Beutler was first elected to the 3rd Congressional District in 2010, and she won her last two elections with more than 60 percent of the vote. But a strong August primary showing by Long, a political science professor at Washington State University's campus in Vancouver, made the once safe Republican area a competitive seat.
In a written statement, Herrera Beutler thanked voters and called long a "worthy opponent in this election."
"I've always worked to be a public servant who solves local problems and makes our region's priorities my priorities, and that will be my approach in this next Congress," she wrote.
In her concession statement, Long noted that she gave Herrera Beutler the strongest re-election bid she's faced.
"What we've built on this campaign is greater than one person - it's a movement of folks from all over Southwest Washington that cannot and will not end with this election," she wrote.
With her 2010 win, Republicans claimed a seat the GOP hadn't held since 1994. After redistricting took effect with the 2012 elections, the district became more conservative, losing the liberal-leaning state capital of Olympia and expanding farther east. The district - which retains a sliver of Thurston County - still spans southwest Washington down to Vancouver, west to the Pacific Ocean and east past the Cascade Mountains.
The only county Long was leading in was Clark, the district's most populous. But her narrow lead in that county was not enough to bridge the gap.
Herrera Beutler was the second Republican incumbent in a competitive race in the state to win this week. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers was re-elected to her eighth term in Congress, besting Democratic challenger Lisa Brown.
But a Democratic lead in a long-held Republican seat is giving Democrats hope to increase the party's margin in its newfound control of the U.S. House.
Democrats won the 218 seats they needed to seize control of the House, and their wins included suburban districts that Hillary Clinton won in 2016 but were held by a Republican incumbent.
They are hoping to pick up another in the open seat in the 8th Congressional District, where Dr. Kim Schrier, a Democrat and pediatrician, had captured about 53 percent of the vote in early returns Tuesday over Republican Dino Rossi, a former state senator who had previous unsuccessful runs for governor and the U.S. Senate.
Because Washington is a vote-by-mail state where ballots can be postmarked on Election Day, additional votes are still being counted, and updates are expected Thursday.
Independent pollster Stuart Elway said Schrier's lead in the open seat in the 8th Congressional District - which Clinton won but has been held by a Republican since it was created in the early 1980s - is "a classic pattern of the national trend."
The district spans from the far eastern Seattle suburbs across the Cascade Mountains.
Rossi was leading in four of the district's five counties, but Schrier was dominating in King, which has twice as many votes as the other four counties combined.
Tina Podlodowski, chairwoman of the state Democratic Party, said Wednesday that the numbers show that Democratic voters are moving to different parts of the state, "particularly into those suburbs and into the rural areas in the 8th."
"I think what you're seeing is a change from Seattle being the center of the universe for Democrats," she said.
Elway, who had a poll last month showing support for Rossi spike after the nomination hearing for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, said that "there was a real tremor in the force" right at the time his poll had showed Rossi ahead by 10.
"It didn't sustain in the 8th District, but nationally that's what energized a lot of Republicans," he said.
Republican support stayed strong in the 5th Congressional District, where McMorris Rodgers, who ranks fourth in House leadership, captured more than 55 percent of the vote over Brown, a former state Senate leader.
The district, centered in Spokane, has not elected a Democrat since former House Speaker Tom Foley last won in 1992.
Currently there are six Democrats and four Republicans in the state's House delegation. The other seven incumbents were all easily re-elected: Democratic Reps. Suzan DelBene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Pramila Jayapal, Adam Smith, Denny Heck and Republican Rep. Dan Newhouse.
For AP's complete coverage of the U.S. midterm elections: http://apne.ws/APPolitics