Mercer Island resident John Urquhart has opened up a commanding lead he is unlikely to relinquish in his bid to unseat appointed King County Sheriff Steve Strachan.
Initial general election returns Tuesday night showed Urquhart with a solid lead, receiving 57.35 percent of the votes counted so far, a 15-point lead over Strachan, a SeaTac resident, who currently has 42.23 percent of the vote.
The race for King County Sheriff was to complete former Sheriff Sue Rahr's four-year term, which ends in 2013. Rahr stepped down in March to lead the state's police academy.
Strachan, a former chief of police in Kent and a state legislator in Minnesota, faced a tough and occasionally negative campaign against Urquhart, and both were dogged by negative news stories all autumn, ranging from Urquhart's 2003 reprimand for using disrespectful language to Strachan's violation of county ethics codes for wearing his sheriff's uniform at political events.
Sheriff Strachan's election chances may have also been damaged by revelations in a critical audit of the King County Sheriff's Office delivered in July to the King County Council and a sexual harassment claim filed in September against the Sheriff's Office by female detectives also raised several questions about Strachan's leadership and how much he had to do with the circumstances that led to the lawsuit and the negative audit.
Strachan responded that many of the audit recommendations had been implemented and that the lawsuit related to problems that existed prior to his leadership of the KCSO.
So far, King County is reporting 443,877 votes have been counted in the race from 1,182,929 ballots mailed or submitted by voters — about 37.5 percent. The deadline to postmark or turn in ballots was Tuesday. King County Elections officials plan to release updated vote totals at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.
For more on federal and statewide races in the Nov. 6 general election, click here. For more on King County and local races, click here. Patch will update results in the coming days.King County Sheriff
Ballots Cast/Registered Voters443,877/ 1,182,929 CandidateVoteVote % Steve Strachan
187,491 42.23% John Urquhart