MONTESANO — Port Commissioner Chuck Caldwell has won re-election to a third term in a landslide victory.
Caldwell pulled in 70.71 percent or 8,565 votes to challenger Ron Figlar Barnes’ 29.29 percent or 3,548 votes. In addition, 2, 310 people chose to vote for neither of them.
His challenger Ron Figlar-Barnes said he wasn’t yet ready to concede, “but I admit it’s a long shot right now. This is going to be a tough one and I don’t know if we’ll pull it off.”
In fact, it’s a statistical impossibility for Figlar Barnes to pull it off.
With a countywide turnout of 38.10 percent, with 14,425 out of 37,859 ballots sent, Elections Administrator Katy Moore said that the county had no more ballots on hand to count Tuesday night. The only ballots left are likely a few thousand ballots from drop-off points throughout the county that were being driven in late Tuesday. The next ballot update is Friday night. Every single one of those ballots would have to turn Figlar-Barnes way and thousands more ballots would have to show up via mail for him to pull off a win.
Figlar-Barnes celebrated with a small party with friends and supporters at the Miller House in Elma/
He thanked his wife and son and many supporters, who have been with him since the beginning.
Caldwell hosted an election night party at the Hubble House event house with dozens of friends and supporters in attendance. As the 8 p.m. election deadline approached, he and wife Linda snuck out and crossed the street to wait in the elections office with local media for the results.
Flashing big smiles and a thumbs up, the Caldwells breathed a big sigh of relief as they saw the numbers.
“Seventy-one percent, I really didn’t expect it to be that high,” Caldwell said, hugging his wife.
“We needed this,” she added. “It’s been a pretty stressful campaign.”
Caldwell raised close to $22,000 to Figlar-Barnes’ nearly $8,000. Although Caldwell received many donations from Port tenants and large businesses, he says he’s most proud of the $15,000 raised from individuals.
“They put their trust in me,” Caldwell said. “I owe the people everything. That’s what makes a guy feel good.”
Caldwell, who owns Price & Price Real Estate in Montesano, came into the Hubble House and was met by fellow Port Commissioners Jack Thompson and Stan Pinnick, who shook his hand and gave him hugs. There was silence at first but then he flashed his grin and laughed.
“You’re all stuck with me for another six years,” he said to a room full of laughter.
“I feel good,” Caldwell said. “I was mainly worried about my wife. She has just worked so hard. I love her so much.”
Caldwell said he doesn’t think the issue of oil trains was a big factor in the campaign, even though Figlar-Barnes made his opposition to oil export facilities the centerpiece of his campaign.
“I think this came down to a sign from the people that we as commissioners have done a fine job these past 12 years,” Caldwell said. “I think the people realize if we do the job right, the crude by rail could be a good project for us. But I don’t think that’s what this election was about. This was about having the right team in place at the Port.”
Caldwell said he made sure the campaign was about him, his record and what he stands for, not the oil trains.
Caldwell’s supporters drew from both Democrats and Republicans, alike. He said he had supporters who weren’t fans of the crude oil export facilities and many that were.
“I’ve tried to work for everybody and try to make Grays Harbor a better place,” Caldwell said.
Caldwell will be 88 years old by the time his third six-year term is over in 2019. He says he has no plans to run again.
“This is the last election for me,” he said.