16th LD Candidates

Former U.S. diplomat Danielle Garbe Reser, left, and former Walla Walla County Commissioner Perry Dozier are running for the state Senate seat from the 16th legislative district.

WALLA WALLA — A Republican appears poised to continue leading Walla Walla’s 16th District as senator.

Perry Dozier took the lead Tuesday against Democratic opponent Danielle Garbe Reser in what has been characterized among the state’s crucial legislative races.

Dozier received 57.8% of the total to Garbe Reser’s 42.2%, according to the preliminary figures.

“This is a good place to be,” Dozier said at the Elections Center at the Walla Walla County Fairgrounds. “We can build on this for the rest of the night.”

Garbe Reser, however, said with record voter turnout across the state and country there are still too many ballots to count to call the race.

“We knew we weren’t going to know results tonight,” she said. “It will take a little bit longer to count.”

ELECTION 2020: Complete coverage

ELECTION 2020: Complete coverage

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The winner succeeds Sen. Maureen Walsh, R-College Place, who caps a 28-year career in the Legislature, including six terms in the state House of Representatives, with retirement from the position she won in the 2016 election.

The 16th District represents Columbia and Walla Walla counties, the most southern portion of Benton County and Pasco, with Walla Walla home to the greatest number of registered voters.

Dozier said he had hoped his two terms as a Walla Walla County commissioner would have positioned him stronger here.

Garbe Reser raised $469,679.58 from donors, easily outmatching Dozier’s $146,675.

Garbe Reser set out to become the first Democrat elected to the seat in 20 years.

The Whitman College graduate who went on to a career as a U.S. diplomat and later became the CEO of Sherwood Trust before stepping down late last year, highlighted a text amendment proposal from Dozier over a water bottling project to call into question his willingness to listen to constituents.