- The Washington Times
Thursday, November 6, 2014

Politics, like football, can be a game of inches, and former Washington Redskin tight end Clint Didier may have come up just short of the goal line in his cliffhanger third try to win a U.S. House seat in Washington state.

The tea party conservative trails fellow Republican Dan Newhouse by just over 2 percent as 40,000 votes have yet to be counted from Tuesday’s contest. The two Republicans are battling to succeed retiring Rep. Doc Hastings, a Republican who has represented the Republican-leaning 4th District in the center of the state since 1995.

Mr. Didier currently trails by some 2,248 votes out of 108,952 ballots cast, according to the state’s secretary of state’s office, with write-in ballots still not fully counted. However, Mr. Didier closed the gap by 800 votes yesterday, and his campaign is hopeful that the gap will continue to shrink as more votes are counted.

“We’re watching things closely,” said Larry Stickney, Mr. Didier’s campaign manager. “We’re cautiously optimistic.”

A two-time Super Bowl champion with Washington, Mr. Didier has already scored a mild upset by making it so close against Mr. Newhouse, a more moderate Republican and former state agricultural commissioner who was expected to fare better in the general election. The district is one of just a handful of the 435 House races across the country yet to declare a winner.

Mr. Newhouse’s campaign is hoping his lead will stand up when the preliminary call on the election is made this weekend.

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“We remain very optimistic,” said Jim Keough, spokesman for the Newhouse campaign.

The results won’t be official until Nov. 24 when counties certify results, according to a spokesperson from Washington’s Secretary of State office. However, voters should have a good sense of who won the election by the end of the week. A wave of votes will be counted by Friday and could give a hint as to who will win the race.

Even without a high number of votes from the Democrats, the district’s political geography suggests Mr. Newhouse has the edge as the final votes are tallied. Most of the votes remaining are from the two biggest districts which have gone heavily for Mr. Newhouse thus far. Mr. Didier even tweeted Wednesday night: “Math not on my side at this point but race remains close.”

Mr. Stickney said he thought the Didier campaign might have pulled off the upset had it not been for a last stretch effort of negative ads backed with large financial support from Washington’s Future, a political action committee backed by former GOP Sen. Slade Gorton. The anti-Didier ad called his views “weird and extreme.”

“Clint would have walked away” victorious already had it not been for the “negative ads from the west side of the mountain,” Mr. Stickney said — a reference to the more liberal coastal regions of the state.

Mr. Newhouse’s campaign said the outside spot was an “accurate ad that contained statements that Mr. Didier made.”

• Mark Pace can be reached at mpace@washingtontimes.com.

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