Franklin County Commissioner Bob Koch maintained his narrow lead over Rodney “Rocky” Mullen in the race for Franklin County commission when the final numbers were tallied Monday
But the 29-vote margin of victory in an election with more than 20,000 votes cast means there is an automatic recount under Washington election law.
The manual recount begins immediately, according to the Franklin County Elections office.
Koch said he’s fairly comfortable a manual recount won’t erase his lead, but he won’t declare victory until after the recount.
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“I don’t like it that close, but it’s elections,” he said Monday.
Koch, a Connell Republican, is a three-term incumbent who faced an election year challenge from Mullen, a Pasco businessman who ran saying the three-person commission needed a strong voice to counter that of Brad Peck, the incumbent in Position 1.
Peck handily won re-election, defeating challenger Matt Beaton with 57 percent of the votes cast.
Koch appeared to have the election in hand, if narrowly, on election night. But with more than 3 points separating him from his challenger and many ballots left to count, Koch declined to declare victory.
10,079 Bob Koch
10,050 Rodney “Rocky” Mullen
The move proved prudent as Koch’s lead narrowed as late-arriving ballots trickled in.
Mullen spent the intervening weeks visiting voters whose ballots were contested for some reason. While he couldn’t know which candidate they voted for, he encouraged them to go to the elections office to fill out the correction form so that they could be counted.
The final tally, subject to certification, was 10,079 to 10,050, or 50.07 percent to 49.93 percent.
The Canvassing Board of Franklin County begin the process of certifying the general election results at 1:30 p.m., Tuesday at the Franklin County Election Center, 116 N. Third Ave., Pasco. It is open to the public. With a turnout of 25,075 votes, Franklin County’s general election turnout was 73.5 percent, about 10 points below expectations.
▪ In Benton County, about 750 votes remain to be counted Tuesday, with 84,423 votes already counted.
Certification starts at 9 a.m. at the Benton County Courthouse in Prosser and is open to the public.
Among close vote totals on election night were an advisory vote on allowing marijuana businesses in Benton City and a levy increase to change the way West Richland pays for library services. The spread for both measures has widened.
The latest count showed voters favoring the Benton City marijuana proposition 562 to 506 and the West Richland library proposition being favored 3,663 to 3,415.