Five months after George Fearing was picked to fill a vacant seat on the state Court of Appeals, voters in nine Washington counties appear to have overwhelmingly supported that decision.
Fearing, a former Tri-City lawyer, was elected Tuesday to finish the three-year unexpired term.
The preliminary results Tuesday on the Washington Secretary of State's website showed 35,749 votes, or 70 percent, in favor of keeping Fearing in the seat.
He was appointed by Gov. Jay Inslee to the Division III bench in Spokane after longtime Judge Dennis Sweeney retired.
The District 2 position represents nine southeastern counties, including the Tri-Cities.
Fearing's opponent was Gary Metro, a Walla Walla-based attorney who also practices in Benton and Franklin counties and focuses on criminal law.
Metro got 15,444 votes, or 30 percent, from the representative counties, according to the state site.
In Benton County, Fearing received 15,143 votes, or 74 percent. Metro got 5,390 votes.
Franklin County voters gave Fearing 3,888 votes, or 75 percent, to 1,271 votes for Metro.
Benton County's results include some ballots received Tuesday. Franklin County's results include ballots turned in through Monday.
Both counties will count more ballots today. Election results will be certified Nov. 26.
Terry Bloor, a Benton County chief criminal deputy prosecutor, was a finalist for the appointment and also filed to run in the General Election. He withdrew his name from the ballot and put his support behind Fearing after the governor made his selection.
Fearing had been an attorney since 1982 with the Kennewick firm of Leavy, Schultz, Davis & Fearing.
The Court of Appeals reviews the decisions of trial judges. It can affirm a case by finding that a judge did everything right, send it back for a new trial or sentencing or dismiss the matter.
w Kristin M. Kraemer: 582-1531; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @KristinMKraemer