Former Franklin County Sheriff Richard Lathim found himself trailing Tuesday in a close race for the second time in less than a year.
But this time Lathim needs to make up more than 186 votes to get on the ballot for the November general election for 9th District state representative.
After the initial vote count, Rep. Mary Dye, R-Pomeroy, had 7,258 votes, or 48 percent, and Democrat Kenneth Caylor received 4,047 votes, or 27 percent.
Lathim, a Republican, had 3,861 votes, or 26 percent, after the initial count.
Lathim is winning in his home Franklin County with nearly 51 percent, but Dye is leading the district’s other five counties. Caylor is not winning any counties, but picked up momentum in Whitman County, where he leads Lathim by 919 votes.
In November, Lathim, who lost to Jim Raymond by 518 votes in his bid for reelection as sheriff, was confident he could catch Caylor.
“There’s a lot of votes left to come in,” Lathim said. “I’d be surprised if I stay in third place.”
Dye was appointed to the position in May by 13 of 17 voting commissioners from the six counties that are in the 9th District.
She is a partner and business manager in her family’s third-generation wheat farm, and has helped many candidates get elected while serving as state Republican committeewoman for Garfield County.
Dye said she has been helping other candidates get elected for more than 25 years, so it was a new experience being the one getting the votes.
“It’s a good night for me. I’m very excited,” she said.
Dye hopes to spend more time in Franklin County so she can do better there in the general election.
“Pasco is a big city, there are a lot of voters I have yet to meet,” she said. “I spent a lot of time getting down to Pasco and meeting with voters. I feel there is a lot of potential, and the city is primed for economic growth and prosperity.”
Lathim, who served as Franklin County sheriff for 28 years, was picked as the top choice when GOP precinct committee officers met to nominate candidates for the commissioners to consider. But just three commissioners, including the two Franklin County representatives, voted for him and he filed to run against Dye the next week.
Caylor, the only Democrat, is retired from the construction trade. He served on the Othello City Council for eight years through 2013. He has served as Adams County state Democratic chairman and as co-chair of the state platform and resolution committee for a decade.
“I figured it would be pretty nip and tuck,” Caylor said told the Herald. “We’ll hold off and see what happens.”
The 9th District extends from Othello to the southeastern corner of Washington, and includes west Pasco and rural Franklin County. Franklin County, which is split into two districts, has no representatives in Olympia.
The top two candidates move on to the Nov. 3 election. The winner will serve the last year of the two-year term originally won by Susan Fagan, a Pullman Republican who resigned over allegations she falsified travel expense reports. The position pays $45,474.
Dye picked up a number of late contributions before the primary, bringing her total raised to $23,515, including a $5,000 loan. She received $1,900 from the Washington Affordable Housing Association, and $950 donations from Avista Corp., BNSF Railway Co., Big I insurance, Delta Dental, Pacific Merchant Shipping Association, Weyerhauser, Trueblue, as well as organizations representing the potato, banking, beer and wine, restaurant and auto dealer industries, according to the state Public Disclosure Commission.
Dye also had received donations from various state legislative leaders, including Rep. Larry Haler, R-Richland.
Caylor had not reported raising any money.
Lathim raised $12,047. He received $1,900 from the Law Enforcement Administrators of Washington and other donations from individuals.
“There’s tens of thousands of dollars of (Political Action Committee) money being spent on (Dye’s) behalf,” Lathim said. “I can’t raise that amount of money, but we’ll do the best we can.”
Lathim also is disappointed in the lack of support from other Republican officials.
“It’s real frustrating,” he said. “I understand when somebody’s been in office, and has been elected by the people and has got a track record. The fact that I was the people’s choice and she was the pick of a handful of commissioners, and they’re treating her like an incumbent. I felt they should let the people decide.”