PORT ANGELES — The two candidates vying to replace longtime Clallam County Commissioner Mike Chapman will wait for more election results before declaring victory or conceding defeat.
Randy Johnson, who filed with no party preference, forged a nine-point lead on Democratic challenger Ron Richards after the county auditor’s office processed the first batch of general election ballots from District 2 on Tuesday.
Johnson had 4,079 votes to Richards’ 3,469 votes — a 54.04 percent to 45.96 percent cushion — with an estimated 10,000 countywide ballots left to tabulate.
Only voters in central-county District 2 cast a ballot in the commissioners race.
“It’s not over till it’s over, as they say,” Johnson said Wednesday.
“We won’t know [the outcome] until they run the next round of ballots.”
County Auditor Shoona Riggs said the election results will be updated by 4:30 p.m. today.
“The results last night were obviously not what we wanted,” Richards said Wednesday.
“However, as I just discussed with my opponent and perhaps the next District 2 Clallam County commissioner, Randy Johnson, I will await the next ballot count before making a final conclusion as to the outcome of this race.”
Johnson, 73, is a former executive at timberland and wood products company Green Crow Corp. of Port Angeles
Richards, 71, is a fisherman and former Clallam County commissioner.
While he stopped short of declaring victory, Johnson said he was encouraged by the early returns.
“I’ve got to feel good running as an independent because that means that a lot of people who weren’t aligned with either party turned around and voted for me,” Johnson said.
Johnson added that he and Richards “both care about the county and we both are involved in a lot of different kinds of activities.”
Richards thanked his supporters in a prepared statement that he issued shortly after phoning Johnson Wednesday morning.
“Your support, dedication, enthusiasm, commitment and hard work have been especially gratifying,” Richards wrote.
“That all made for a fun and exciting race. I will be forever appreciative of your assistance.”
In a later interview, Richards said it would be difficult but not impossible to change the course of the election.
“I think the chance is remote,” he allowed.
In his statement, Richards thanked his wife, Nina, for her encouragement and “great advice” throughout the campaign.
“This was the key to making the campaign an enjoyable experience,” Richards said.
“We can look back on this as an important, joint effort to help our community.”
Richards also thanked his main campaign manager, Betsy Robins, and yard sign team of Clark Mundy and Leya Heart.
“Your help has gone beyond anything I could have asked for,” Richards said.
“I simply cannot adequately describe how much I have enjoyed working with you.”
Regardless of the outcome of the election, Richards said he was “committed to working together to make Clallam County a better place for all — in accordance with Randy’s campaign slogan.”
“And I am pleased to report from my conversation with Randy that that commitment is reciprocal,” Richards said.
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.