Democrat Carolyn Long checks initial returns in Washington's Aug. 7, 2018, primary election. Long will face Republican Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler in the state's 3rd Congressional District during November's General Election.

Democrat Carolyn Long checks initial returns in Washington’s Aug. 7, 2018, primary election. Long will face Republican Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler in the state’s 3rd Congressional District during November’s General Election.

Molly Solomon/OPB

Initial returns for Washington’s primary election Tuesday night revealed some closer than expected races in southwest Washington.

Incumbent U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground, could be heading toward a difficult general election in November.

Find full results from the Washington primary election at OPB.org/results.

Early results Tuesday showed the four-term congresswoman held less than a four-percentage-point lead after winning the primary with 40.9 percent. Herrera Beutler will face off against Democrat Carolyn Long in November, who had 36.6 percent of the vote.

Long recently moved to the area from Salem, Oregon, but teaches political science at Washington State University, Vancouver. She said she believes the 3rd District is ready to go back to a Democrat.

“I’m just humbled by the response,” Long said after seeing the first printout.

“These results show that we can really make inroads, especially if you’ve got an incumbent who hasn’t been paying attention to her constituents’ needs,” Long added.

Long said she hopes that the other three Democrats in the primary — David McDevitt, Dorothy Gasque, and Martin Hash — will join together to support her campaign going into the November election.

“This is about beating Jaime Herrera Beutler,” Long said.

In an emailed statement, Herrera Beutler thanked southwest Washington voters for their support in advancing her through the primary.

“Over the next few months voters will be presented with a clear contrast between a proud Southwest Washingtonian who has worked hard and reached across the aisle to get results for this community, and an Oregonian who will vote to raise taxes and kill economic growth,” she wrote.

The Republican has consistently won the district by double digits during past campaigns, so Long’s showing in the primary could mean a stronger challenge for Herrera Beutler in November’s general election.

In other southwest Washington races, Clark County Democrats applauded initial results in the more rural and conservative areas outside Vancouver.

“This is the best showing we’ve had in many years,” said Clark County Democratic Party Chair Rich Rogers.

He said he was thrilled to see Kathy Gillespie lead with 53.45 percent in the 18th legislative district which includes Camas, Washougal and Battle Ground. The seat was previously held by Republican Liz Pike.

“Kathy Gillespie’s victory shows that the 18th is ready for new leadership and they’re ready to take a chance on a Democrat,” Rogers said.

Rogers noted the district hasn’t voted for a Democrat since former state Rep. Betty Sue Morris won re-election more than 20 years ago.

Clark County Democrats also cheered Temple Lentz’s narrow lead in Clark County Council’s District 1 seat with 33.6 percent of the vote. The political newcomer was edging out Republican incumbent Jeanne Stewart, with a less than 1 percentage point lead. Longtime Democrat and former Washington state Rep. Jim Moeller is a close third in the race with 31.89 percent.

“Voters have said they do want something different,” said Lentz.

If she wins the seat in November, she would be the first Democrat on the five-person council since 2014. The current council is made up of all Republicans, except for council chair Marc Boldt, who is not stating a party preference.

“The county is a politically diverse place and we need that representation,” Lentz said.

In the Clark County Council Chair race, conservative Councilor Eileen Quiring led with 37.23 percent Tuesday night and had about 10,000 more votes than Democrat Eric Holt, who was in second place with 24.29 percent. That means current Council Chair Marc Boldt will likely lose his seat in November.

In the 17th legislative district, Republican incumbent Vicki Kraft led Democratic challenger Tanisha Harris 48.45 percent to 43.88 percent. The district includes east Vancouver and parts of unincorporated Clark County.

Despite Democrats gaining votes in more rural areas considered GOP strongholds, Clark County Republican leaders said they’re not concerned.

“The Democrats are really out there being active and passionate in a primary season,” said Clark County Republican Party Chairman David Gellatly. “We fully expect Republicans will show up for the general election.”