OLYMPIA - Charlie Wiggins took the lead Tuesday over incumbent Justice Richard Sanders after trailing him for nearly a week of vote counting in the race for state Supreme Court.
Wiggins had a 3,603-vote lead following a count update from several of the state’s 39 counties and holds 50.1 percent of the vote over Sanders’ 49.9 percent. King County, the state’s largest, pushed Wiggins into the lead.
At least 18 counties, including King, were set to post new totals this afternoon.
Sanders, who is seeking his fourth term, had led since election night, but saw his lead dwindle to less than 4,000 votes by Monday night.
Wiggins said that he was waiting to see another day’s worth of returns, but that “things are pretty certainly headed in the right direction.”
“I’m just thrilled,” he said Tuesday night. “I’m feeling very grateful.”
There are still nearly 175,000 ballots left to tally, but many of the votes that remain to be counted are in King County, where Wiggins has been leading by a 58 percent to 41 percent margin. State law mandates a re-count if the final margin is less than 2,000 votes and less than one-half of 1 percent.
“I wish it was the other way around,” Sanders said Tuesday night when told of the latest vote count.
Sanders said that he wanted to wait and see the updates from Snohomish and Spokane counties, which have about 47,000 votes left to count, and where he leads. Neither county was to update its vote counts until this evening.
“I think I’ll let it play out a little while longer,” he said. “At some point, it’s going to be crystal clear what the results will be.”
Wiggins, a Bainbridge Island attorney who briefly served as a state appeals court judge, was leading in a handful of counties in Western Washington and one in Eastern Washington, while Sanders had big leads in most of Eastern Washington.
On Friday, Sanders’ campaign asked supporters to help bankroll “ballot-chase teams, legal representatives and election observers,” reporting that some 17,000 ballots haven’t been counted because of signature problems.
The tough campaign included Sanders coming under fire for remarks at a court meeting, contending that racial bias plays no significant role in the criminal justice system.
Sanders insists his comments were misconstrued.