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Emerson, Engle take commanding leads in Island County election

U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen(left) enjoys last-minute campaigning Tuesday at the corner of Highway 20 and Main Street in Coupeville. He stopped in Clinton, Langley, Coupeville and Oak Harbor Tuesday.  - Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times
U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen(left) enjoys last-minute campaigning Tuesday at the corner of Highway 20 and Main Street in Coupeville. He stopped in Clinton, Langley, Coupeville and Oak Harbor Tuesday.
— image credit: Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times

Election night was a big success for the Republican establishment in Island County.

The first count of ballots Tuesday night showed that all of the county candidates endorsed by the county's Republican party are likely to win, though that doesn't mean the Democrats didn't have any successes. Democratic candidates lead in two races against Republican candidates who didn't earn their party's endorsements.

In perhaps the most hotly contested race in the county, Republican Kelly Emerson is ahead of Democrat John Dean, the incumbent county commissioner. Emerson has 12,455 votes, or 52 percent, while Dean has 11,428 ballots cast in his favor, which amounts to 48 percent.

Emerson said her message of fiscal responsibility resonated with voters.

"They are looking for someone who will be a strong manager going forward," she said, adding that she has promised to listen to voters.

In the other strongly contested race, Republican Mary Engle has a commanding lead over her boss, incumbent Assessor Dave Mattens, a Democrat. Engle has 13,007 votes and Mattens has 10,930. That's 54 percent to 46 percent.

Island County Coroner Robert Bishop, a Republican, is far ahead of his no-party-affiliated rival, Paul Thompson. Bishop has 15,010 votes and Thompson has 7,714.

In the race for county clerk, Democrat Debra Van Pelt is out in front of Republican Carol Ann Fortune by a margin in 58 percent to 42 percent. Likewise, Ana Maria Nunez, a Democrat, is ahead of Republican Shane Fortune by 56 percent to 44 percent. Neither of the Fortunes were endorsed by the county Republicans.

The two incumbent state representatives, both Republicans, have commanding leads in District 10. Rep. Barbara Bailey has 22,355 votes, or 59 percent, while Tom Riggs has 15,293, or 41 percent. Rep. Norma Smith has 23,169 votes, or 62 percent, while Laura Lewis has 14,402, or 38 percent.

Early results show that the race between U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, a Democrat, and Republican John Koster is extremely close. Koster is slightly ahead with 85,096 to Larsen's 84,434.

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