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Rolfes takes early lead in 23rd District
Rep. Christine Rolfes has a commanding lead in the race for the second position of the 23rd Legislative District, and with the votes continuing to roll in, it appears her opponent will be Bainbridge Island resident James M. Olsen.
Olsen garnered 32 percent of the vote to Rolfes’ 56 percent. However, Olsen believes his total, combined with the votes received by Aaron Winters, a Republican from Poulsbo, makes the general election race a potentially close one.
“She’s a career politician; all but anointed as a saint, been here for two terms, and she pulls two thousand more votes than two newbie fiscal conservatives,” he said Tuesday after the first results were released. “She’s got big trouble.”
Rolfes, who won her last two elections with 61 and 54 percent of the vote, said the race is right on track with her expectations.
“The result is what my campaign was expecting, and I hope it means people are looking for someone who has a proven track record and takes a balanced approach to things to send back to Olympia,” she said.
Olsen has run under a similar position taken by many Republicans across the country – that Democratic incumbents have spent too much money, and greater fiscal restraint is needed to pull the country out of the current economic downturn.
Rolfes, who was a part of a painful cost-cutting exercise to help bridge a 25 percent budget gap last year, said she has worked tirelessly on budget reform in her years in Olympia, while also fighting to stabilize the ferry system and clean up the Puget Sound.
Kitsap County Elections Manager Dolores Gilmore estimates 8,800 ballots left to be counted in the 23rd District, with a turnout of 44 percent thus far.
Though it’s only primary season, Rolfes has already raised more than $100,000 and spent nearly half of it, something she said is in line with her plan from her previous campaigns.
Thus far, Olsen has raised approximately $2,000, but he speculated prior to the primary that when he got through, the money from conservative groups would follow. Olsen said he doesn’t need to spend a lot of money; he plans to get his message out through debates and by putting boots to pavement.
Olsen said he plans to set himself apart from Rolfes as the general election draws nearer.
“What’s going to happen is, I’m diametrically different from Rolfes,” he said. “She’s a big government gal, she believes in taxes, and the voters aren’t happy about it. I will sing that and speak that.”
Rolfes, who served on the Bainbridge City Council before becoming a state representative, said her message will speak to the whole of constituents, those who want a logical approach to the problems faced by the district, and the state.
“In talking with the voters in the community, it looks like people are still looking for a balanced approach to things rather than extremism,” she said. “That’s what I represent going into the general election.”