The race for Franklin County coroner is the closest in all the Tri-Cities on election day.
The longtime incumbent Dan Blasdel was trailing his challenger Curtis McGary by just 214 votes after Tuesday’s initial count.
McGary had 50.7 percent to Blasdel’s 49.3 percent.
Across the river, Deputy Coroner Bill Leach took a strong lead in the Benton County contest against Pasco Detective Sgt. Jamie Raebel. Leach was leading 58 percent to 41 percent.
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
In Franklin County, McGary said he’s happy with the results so far, but pointed out that a lot of ballots remain to be counted.
“We hope and pray that it continues to go that way,” he said.
Blasdel said it’s pretty early.
“We’ll have to wait until the next round of votes are counted,” he said.
In Benton County, Leach also was cautiously optimistic about the results after the first round of counting.
“I tried to run a nice, clean and positive campaign, and if this is how it ends up then I’m happy,” he said.
Raebel, a 33-year veteran of Pasco police, tried to convince voters that his experience makes him far more qualified than his opponent to hold the position. He’s had police and prosecutors line up to support him.
Leach, a five-year veteran in the coroner’s office, acknowledged Raebel’s investigative experience but said he has more experience working with grieving families, which makes up much of the work for the coroner’s office.
All of this has played out against a background where Raebel spent about $87,000, six times more than his opponent, most of it coming out of his own pocket.
The race between Blasdel and McGary has been contentious.
Pasco police, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office and the prosecutor lined up behind the challenger, while Blasdel was supported by fellow coroner officials statewide.
McGary said the endorsements are signs that Blasdel created a rift with law enforcement. Blasdel, however, said those endorsements are simply the product of hard feelings after the inquest into the 2015 shooting of Antonio Zambrano-Montes.
The race also has been marked by McGary’s accusations that Blasdel and his staff don’t do enough of the work themselves.