George Murdock retained his seat as Umatilla County commissioner by 489 votes. That’s a tick under 2 percent of total ballots the Umatilla County Elections Division has accepted, and just 1.1 percent of the county’s total number of eligible voters.
The latest unofficial election results show Murdock, the incumbent and established name, prevailed in 27 of the county’s 45 voting precincts over challenger Rick Pullen, a former county employee and department manager. Murdock and Pullen both live in Pendleton, but the results show neither ran away with the race in the town nor in the county’s other three largest population centers.
Murdock took Milton-Freewater 1,311-1,205, Hermiston 2,830-2,745 and Pendleton 3,658-3,540. Pullen won the city of Umatilla 577-559.
The margins of victory in those towns amount to just a few percentage points: about 4.2 percent in Milton-Freewater, 1.5 percent in Hermiston, and about 1.6 percent in Umatilla and Pendleton.
Only Echo delivered a real landslide for Murdock, 243-122, or 66.4 percent of the vote.
John Shafer of Athena won election to Umatilla County commissioner position 2 with 14,817 votes, but departing Commissioner Larry Givens of Umapine had a write-on campaign going. The race garnered 773 write-ins so far, though the written in names have not yet been released.
Hermiston delivered 256 of those, Pendleton 199, Milton-Freewater 109 and Umatilla 29. Another 17 came from Umapine voters, and 35 from Athena folks. Bill Elfering of Hermiston ran unopposed for county commissioner in the 2016 general election, but that still drew 384 write-ins.
County elections manager Kim Lindell said ballots continue to trickle in from outside the county, and the elections department has yet to verify the write-in votes.