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Rockefeller returns to state Senate with win over Lord

23rd Legislative District incumbent Phil Rockefeller chats with Kim Churchill of Port Orchard after hearing the results of his initial 63.2 percent-36.7 percent victory over Connie Lord Tuesday night at the Silverdale Beach Hotel. - Photo by Jesse Beals
23rd Legislative District incumbent Phil Rockefeller chats with Kim Churchill of Port Orchard after hearing the results of his initial 63.2 percent-36.7 percent victory over Connie Lord Tuesday night at the Silverdale Beach Hotel.
— image credit: Photo by Jesse Beals

With early results giving him a wide lead Tuesday night, Bainbridge Democrat Phil Rockefeller appeared to have beaten out Poulsbo Republican Connie Lord to return to the 23rd Legislative District's Senate seat.

In early returns, Rockefeller was winning 63 percent of the votes. With 55 percent counted, Rockefeller had 26,001 while Lord trailed with 15,134.

Rockefeller said he was not surprised by the results.

"I've been very confident but I take nothing for granted," he said. "I worked hard to get here and I'm going to do the same to stay."

Rockefeller said Sen. Barack Obama's successful run for the presidency seemed to have energized the campaigns of Democrats at all levels.

"We all benefited from Obama," he said.

Lord, who is a Poulsbo City Council member and the city's deputy mayor, was recruited by Senate Republicans to challenge Rockefeller. She ran an aggressive campaign, often clashing with the incumbent over the environment and business stimulation.

As early results came Tuesday night, Lord said she was not ready to concede, and said she was happy with the race she had run.

"I'm proud of all the people who worked on my campaign," she said. "It's been worthwhile, we've really put the spotlight on Olympia."

Lord said the trend toward change in the 2008 election hadn't played out the way she expected in Kitsap County.

"Its pretty evident that people at the national level wanted national change," she said. "Not so much at the local level. If they wanted change at the local level they would have gotten rid of the incumbents."

This would be Rockefeller's second term in the Senate. He previously served in the House of Representatives.

Rockefeller has become known in the state Legislature as a leader on environmental issues. He pushed for legislation to rollback state-wide carbon emissions and sponsored a bill to add emissions information to pre-sale labels on vehicles.

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