BELLINGHAM - Roxanne Murphy, the Bellingham City Council candidate favored by labor unions, conservationists and pro-choice groups, was also the clear choice of voters on the primary election ballot.
Who Murphy will face in the November general election, Bob Burr or Allen Brown, remains unclear due to a surprisingly close race for second place.
Burr, the most liberal of the three candidates for the at-large council seat, led Brown, the only conservative candidate, by 94 votes, according to initial results released shortly after 8 p.m. Tuesday by the Whatcom County Auditor's Office.
"I was surprised myself that the conservative turnout wasn't better for Allen," Burr said.
Murphy took 50.8 percent of the vote, Burr has 25.1 percent of the votes counted so far, and Brown has 24.1 percent.
Murphy said her success was due to broad community support and her willingness to ring doorbells at 1,000 homes in Bellingham so far.
"That helps people understand that you're there for their issues, not your own," Murphy said.
Brown wasn't unhappy to be in third place for now.
"I'm actually pretty happy because in the progressive (city) of Bellingham I didn't expect much, but I think I'm getting pretty good," Brown said.
The at-large seat, a two-year post, is one of four positions on the City Council up for election this year. The only other contested race is between Pinky Vargas and Clayton Petree, who seek the seat that will be vacated by Stan Snapp. Incumbents Gene Knutson and Michael Lilliquist are unopposed.
The next vote count will be released Wednesday afternoon, Aug. 7.
Reach RALPH SCHWARTZ at email@example.com or call 715-2298.