A Republican and a Democrat will emerge from the four-way primary to fill a vacant state House seat representing north Whatcom County.
Luanne Van Werven of Lynden likely will face Lynden Democrat Satpal Sidhu in the Nov. 4 general election, which will determine who replaces Rep. Jason Overstreet, R-Lynden.
Sidhu had the most votes, with 39 percent, according to early vote counts Tuesday, Aug. 5.
"I'm not a career politician," Sidhu said. "I'm glad that in a short time - less than two months - I'm able to arouse so much support for my candidacy."
The Republican vote was split between Van Werven and former Whatcom County Council member Bill Knutzen, with Van Werven holding a wide lead, 34 percent to 23 percent.
Van Werven wouldn't claim victory, saying "a lot of ballots still need to be counted."
"I assumed that it would be closer, and with good reason, because both Bill and I are well known to Whatcom County voters," Van Werven said.
Knutzen would not concede second place Tuesday night.
"It's not where we expected to be, but I'm still optimistic," he said.
Van Werven, a longtime political organizer and until recently the vice chairwoman of the state Republican Party, raised more money than the other three candidates in the race. That fundraising advantage helped Van Werven buy more than $28,000 in television ads.
She also went door to door several weeks before ballots came out, meeting voters in the 42nd Legislative District, which includes all of Whatcom County except south Bellingham and the southwest corner of the county.
"I feel like I've done everything I needed to do," Van Werven said. "I've never worked so hard in my life."
Libertarian Nick Kunkel, hampered by the minor-party label and a lack of fundraising, came in fourth with 4 percent of the vote.
The other races for state House seats in Whatcom County had only two candidates (except Jeff Morris, D-Mount Vernon, who was unopposed in the 40th District). The primary in these races served only as an early look at who has the advantage going into the November election.
Incumbents had leads in all 40th and 42nd District races after Tuesday night's vote count. Rep. Vincent Buys, R-Lynden, led Democratic Party challenger Joy Monjure of Everson, 57 percent to 43 percent.
"I guess I'm really encouraged by today's numbers," Monjure said. "I feel my job is to get the community to know me better, and I think those numbers will go up (in November) if I do a good job of that."
In the 40th, Rep. Kristine Lytton, D-Anacortes, led Republican Daniel Miller of Friday Harbor 66 percent to 34 percent. That district covers south Bellingham, southwest Whatcom County, San Juan County and part of Skagit County.
In a race that could attract statewide attention before the November election, 42nd District Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, led Democrat Seth Fleetwood of Bellingham 57 percent to 43 percent. Democrats want to take at least two seats away from Republicans in the Senate to regain the majority they lost in 2012.