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Vote count increases Murray's lead

Patty Murray shakes hands with supporters on Monday at the Boeing machinists' union office in Everett, Wash.

Democrat Patty Murray has slightly expanded her lead over Republican Dino Rossi in Washington's too-close-to-call U-S Senate Race. Democrats remain confident she will ultimately prevail in her re-election bid.

Several Washington counties have updated their vote tallies. Democrat Murray has gained a tad on Republican Rossi. But the difference between them is still less than two percentage points or about 27-thousand votes, according to the latest returns released by the Secretary of State's office last night.

In a conference call with reporters, Democratic Party Chair Dwight Pelz is optimistic.

"We are confident that when those ballots are all counted we will be sending Patty Murray back to the Senate to fight for us," said Pelz.

Democrats are counting on heavily Democratic King County where there are still more than 300,000 uncounted ballots.

But Republicans  say late arriving ballots tend to trend conservative. Counties will update their vote totals each afternoon in the coming days. 

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy as well as the Washington State legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia." Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Austin worked as a television reporter in Seattle, Portland and Boise. Austin is a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle and Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. Austin’s reporting has been recognized with awards from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Society of Professional Journalists.