Port of Olympia incumbent commissioner Joe Downing was leading challenger Helen Wheatley in early returns Tuesday night.
Downing, who is looking to earn a second term on the commission, was leading with 19,457 votes to Wheatley’s 17,369 after the first tally of the countywide vote.
“I feel good about that margin,” he said, adding that his advisers told him that a margin of 5 percent should hold up.
“I’ll take that to the bank,” he said.
He praised Wheatley’s campaign, saying she ran a good campaign and drummed up a lot of grassroots support.
“We had opportunities for really good discussions and that happened in this race,” he said.
Wheatley, who holds a doctorate in world history from Johns Hopkins University, said Tuesday night that the race was close enough that she was not ready to concede.
“Everybody tells me that in port races it often happens this way,” she said about the initial results.
“It was exhilarating, humbling and I’m certainly proud,” Wheatley said about her campaign. “There’s nothing more we could have done. It was a good solid race.”