ELECTIONS — Nichols leads in nonbinding primary against Clallam prosecuting attorney Payne

By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES –– Former chief deputy prosecutor Mark Nichols staked a slim lead in initial returns from Tuesday’s primary election.

He tallied 52 percent of the vote compared with current Prosecuting Attorney Will Payne’s 48 percent.

The partisan primary vote is only an indicator of support. The race between the two Republicans will be decided in the Nov. 4 general election.

“I’m honored and encouraged that a majority of the people who voted in the primary chose me to be their next county prosecutor,” Nichols said.

“Time will tell whether the immediate results hold through the primary.”

Nichols received 5,962 votes to Payne’s 5,525 after the Clallam County auditor’s first count of 14,667 ballots.

Tuesday’s results, which included not quite a third of Clallam County voters, will serve as an indicator of how the two candidates will fare on November’s general election ballot.

“I didn’t really expect that one of us were going to go really one way or the other as far as running away with this,” Payne said.

“I certainly think as voters get more familiar with me, I’ll do better come November.”

By state law, all partisan races were on the “top two” primary ballot — even those with two or fewer candidates.

The Clallam County Auditor’s Office had received 14,670 ballots as of Tuesday out of 47,133 issued countywide, bringing the voter turnout to 31.12 percent.

Clallam County Auditor Patty Rosand said Tuesday that her office planned to count all ballots on hand Tuesday night.

Rosand said she expects to receive about 2,000 more ballots through the mail and the drop boxes outside Sequim, Forks and the Clallam courthouse in Port Angeles in the coming days.

The Auditor’s Office will next count ballots by 4:30 p.m. Friday.

Payne was appointed prosecutor to fill the spot vacated by Republican Deb Kelly’s retirement in January on a split vote from county commissioners.

Payne drew the support of Commissioners Mike Doherty, a Port Angeles Democrat, and Jim McEntire, a Sequim Republican.

Commissioner Mike Chapman, a Port Angeles independent, backed Nichols, who had served as Kelly’s chief deputy prosecutor.

Nichols resigned from the prosecutor’s office after Payne took office and was appointed as the county’s hearings examiner.

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Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at jsmillie@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: August 05. 2014 10:37PM
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