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Ed Murray defeats Mike McGinn; wins Seattle mayoral race

Updated election results Wednesday night show state Sen. Ed Murray has 56 percent of the vote. (AP)

The leader of Washington state’s successful effort to legalize gay marriage is Seattle’s next mayor.

Updated election results Wednesday night show state Sen. Ed Murray has 56 percent of the vote.

The campaign of Mayor Mike McGinn had held out hope that later ballots would trend in his favor. While the numbers showed some slight improvement for him Wednesday, he was still losing among those more recent ballots.

A McGinn spokesman says there will be a news conference Thursday morning.

Murray and McGinn had largely campaigned with similar policy positions, but they offered contrasting styles of how to lead the Northwest’s largest city. Murray’s call for a more collaborative approach led him to build a broad range of endorsements and financial support.

Murray spoke as if the race was settled at a jubilant campaign party Tuesday night and reiterated his message that the election was a chance for the city to come together _ both internally and with counterparts around the state.

McGinn said he expects he will have to concede but said he wanted to wait and see more votes counted before doing so. He also asked his supporters to continue to press to hold Seattle to its ideals.

In their campaign to court the left-leaning voters, the two mayoral candidates embraced ideas such as a $15 minimum wage, new taxes and legal marijuana. They each have lengthy backgrounds championing liberal causes in the Seattle area.

Murray is a longtime state lawmaker who for years led efforts to legalize gay marriage in the state, which was approved by voters last year. He’s also led efforts to broker major deals in Olympia, such as two transportation revenue packages that were passed in 2003 and 2005. If elected, he would be Seattle’s first openly gay mayor.

Murray said Wednesday morning he would make public safety and hiring a new police chief priorities. The Seattle Police Department is under a federal court-appointed monitor overseeing changes following Justice Department findings that officers routinely used excessive force.

Before becoming mayor, McGinn was an activist with the environmental group Sierra Club, and he has continued to stake out a message of environmental stewardship. McGinn often rides his bike around Seattle, is pushing for pension fund money to be divested from coal companies and is an advocate for expanded transit services.

Murray said McGinn’s approach during his first term has alienated groups and political leaders in Olympia, making it harder for Seattle to win support for its priorities. McGinn has questioned Murray’s effectiveness given that a Republican-dominated majority now controls the state Senate.

Combined, Murray and McGinn raised and spent more than $1 million, with Murray leading the money race by a few hundred thousand dollars.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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