Brad Klippert narrowly widened his lead Wednesday over fellow Republican candidate Skip Novakovich in the race for an open state House seat in Benton County's 8th Legislative District.
Updated primary election numbers released by the county auditor's office show Democrat Carol Moser well out front with 7,996 votes, or 40 percent. She'll advance to the Nov. 4 general election and face the top Republican in a field of four who have split the GOP vote.
On Wednesday that still was Klippert, a Benton County sheriff's deputy who hasn't reported raising or spending a dime on the race. He was getting 3,722 votes, or 18.6 percent, to Kennewick businessman Skip Novakovich's 3,377 votes, or 16.9 percent.
The 345-vote lead is up from 279 on election night.
"It's spreading instead of getting closer," Klippert said. "I'm proceeding with caution."
Richland School Board President Rick Jansons was getting 2,602 votes, or 13 percent, and Benton County restaurateur Steve Simmons was getting 2,316 votes, or 11.6 percent.
The new tally only includes votes from ballots received by the auditor's office through Monday. Ballots that were mailed Monday or mailed or dropped off Tuesday still haven't been counted.
"Quite a few," Auditor Bobbie Gagner said.
Updated tallies are scheduled to be released daily. The county is scheduled to certify the results Sept. 3.
Klippert and Novakovich have been complimentary of the entire Republican field and aren't making predictions about how things will settle out.
"It's hard to say which way it's going to go," Novakovich said Wednesday.
"All I can do is remain positive and hope for the best."