Cell phone executive Joe Mallahan conceded defeat Monday in the race for Seattle mayor, handing environmental attorney Mike McGinn a victory in the state's biggest city.
Mallahan conceded after the latest batch of results from King County showed McGinn had more than doubled his lead, to nearly 5,000 votes. On Friday, he led Mallahan by 2,384 votes.
The two newcomers finished ahead of incumbent Mayor Greg Nickels in the August primary.
"Voters of Seattle responded to Mike McGinn's message, and I congratulate him for it," Mallahan said at a Monday evening news conference.
Shortly after, McGinn spoke to his campaign volunteers, calling Mallahan a "gentleman" who cares deeply about the city. Supporters of the Sierra Club activist chanted "We want Mike!" as he walked into his campaign office.
"Look around this room, at the people here. Know what you did. Know how hard you worked. Know how you talked to people ... and everybody today, we did it," McGinn said.
It took until Monday to decide the race because the county uses only mail-in voting, and about half the votes were outstanding at the end of Election Day. King County said Monday it still had 33,000 of the more than 1 million ballots received left to count.
Nickels' primary loss marked a surprising development for a politician viewed as a national leader on environmental issues. The two-term incumbent was chosen last spring to head the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
But he was dogged by criticism of the city's response to a December snowstorm that paralyzed Seattle for nearly two weeks.
Following the primary, Mallahan and McGinn _ both Democrats, although the position is technically nonpartisan _ set out to establish their names among Seattle voters. Mallahan seemingly had an edge.
The T-Mobile executive won key endorsements from established local politicians, including Gov. Chris Gregoire; business organizations; and labor unions, largely because of his support for a highway tunnel under downtown Seattle that would replace the earthquake-damaged Alaskan Way Viaduct.
He also raised far more money than McGinn. Polls leading to the election showed McGinn behind by several points.
But McGinn's unusual approach to the campaign won Seattle voters. He'd often act as his own spokesman and would ride his bike to events. His grass-roots campaign relied heavily on a squadron of volunteers.
His campaign highlighted experience he had leading a parks levy campaign and his activism with the Sierra Club, the national environmental organization.
During the primary, he made opposition to the tunnel a centerpiece of his campaign, but he softened his position a few weeks ago.
"We have many shared issues to tackle, such as the replacement of the Alaskan Way Viaduct and 520, and I look forward to working together with him on these issues," Gregoire said in a statement.