OLYMPIA, Wash. — Democratic Sen. Patty Murray holds a small but clear lead over the Republican challenger in her toughest re-election contest yet.
With more than half the expected ballots counted, Murray led with about 50.5 percent to Republican Dino Rossi's 49.5 percent. Her margin was about 14,000 votes out of more than 1.4 million already counted.
It wasn't the first time Washington residents have gone to bed without knowing the winner in a major election. In 2004, Rossi waged a historically close campaign for governor that wouldn't end until the following summer. Four years before that, Democrat Maria Cantwell beat Republican Sen. Slade Gorton by about 2,000 votes after a re-count.
National Democrats hope Murray holds onto the seat to avoid further losses in the Senate.
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