Wiggins-Sanders race too close to call

Incumbent Richard Sanders is holding off island attorney Charlie Wiggins for State Supreme Court Justice Position 6.

Sanders had 51 percent (567,522) compared to Wiggins' 49 percent (542,717) of the 1,110,239 votes counted, according to preliminary election results on Tuesday.

Sanders has served on the Supreme Court since 1995, when he was the last challenger to defeat a sitting justice.

The already contentious race between the two candidates heated up during the last several days after the Seattle Times withdrew its endorsement for Sanders and gave it to Wiggins. The switch occurred after Sanders made remarks about African Americans being over-represented in the state prison system because they commit more crimes. Sanders said the last-minute drama had an effect on his campaign, and is keeping the race close.

"It's too close for comfort. I'm glad I am where I am and I'd rather be here than where Charlie is," said Sanders. "I didn't know what to expect because there was last-minute stuff in King County. I think it was unjustified and irrational and it did effect some people.

Wiggins said he expected the race would be close and is pleased so far, saying he is cautiously optimistic that more of the votes rolling in will be in his favor. Wiggins also thought the Seattle Times issue may have changed the way voters cast their ballot.

"I think it influenced voters and it's not just that issue by itself. It's more that so many things have happened before with Sanders that are out of step and make you raise your eyebrows. This was one more and the Seattle Times said we just can't keep going along with this, and I think people feel the same way," said Wiggins.

More than 508,000 ballots have yet to be counted statewide, including: about 130,000 from King County; 40,000 from Kitsap County; and 110,000 from Spokane County.

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