Washington has a new state auditor, state Rep. Troy Kelley, D-University Place, who has beaten his Republican opponent, James Watkins, after a bitter battle to replace retiring Auditor Brian Sonntag.

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Washington has a new state auditor: state Rep. Troy Kelley, D-University Place, who has beaten his Republican opponent, James Watkins, after a bitter battle to replace retiring Auditor Brian Sonntag.

Thursday’s vote count put Kelley ahead of Watkins, 52 to 48 percent, and it appears it would be too difficult for Watkins to catch his opponent.

Asked Thursday if he wished to concede, Watkins said in an email, “I’ve been in meetings today and haven’t seen the latest numbers, so can’t really comment.”

The auditor’s office conducts financial and legal compliance audits of state and local government, and also tries to find efficiencies in state government.

Here’s an update on some other key races.

Charter schools

Initiative 1240, the statewide measure on charter schools, maintained a 51 to 49 percent lead Thursday night, down slightly from Election Day.

The yes vote was up a bit in Snohomish County and stayed about the same in Pierce County.

The measure continues to trail in King County, with 51.4 percent of voters against. It also was failing in Spokane County for the first time since election night, but just barely, with 50.14 percent saying no

Secretary of state

The Republicans’ best chance of winning statewide office, Kim Wyman, is locked in a close race with Democrat Kathleen Drew, a former state senator.

This race is tight, but Wyman’s lead increased Thursday evening to 50.7 percent compared with Drew’s 49.2 percent. Republican Secretary of State Sam Reed is retiring. Wyman is the Thurston County auditor.

State Legislature

The Republican Party moved a step closer to narrowing Democrats’ majority in the state Senate Thursday, as Sen. Don Benton took the lead for the first time over Rep. Tim Probst.

If Benton can hold his lead in Clark County’s 17th Legislative District, Republicans will pick up one seat, narrowing Democrats’ advantage to 26-23.

Benton, who trailed Probst by 222 votes on election night, seized a 62-vote lead as later votes continued to trend his way Thursday.

Clark County elections reported that Benton had 49.99 percent to Probst’s 49.86 percent in the latest tally — within automatic recount territory.

That’s the only Senate race still hanging by a thread.

Republicans picked up the 25th District Pierce County seat vacated by Democrat Jim Kastama, as Rep. Bruce Dammeier easily defeated college student Eric Herde.

And in the 10th District, which includes Island County and western slivers of Skagit and Snohomish counties, Republican Rep. Barbara Bailey toppled a 20-year Democratic powerhouse, transportation chairwoman Mary Margaret Haugen.

But hopes for a GOP majority were dashed in King and Snohomish counties.

Democrat Mark Mullet held a seemingly decisive 54 to 46 percent lead over Republican Brad Toft in the usually Republican-leaning 5th District, which includes Maple Valley, North Bend and Issaquah.

Former Republican Sen. Cheryl Pflug threw the race into turmoil when she unexpectedly resigned after filing week and threw her support to Mullet.

In the 1st District, which spans King and Snohomish counties around Bothell, longtime Senate education chairwoman Rosemary McAuliffe, a Democrat, withstood a challenge from Northshore School Board member Dawn McCravey, a Republican, and $335,000 in independent expenditures attacking McAuliffe.