Randy Brinkerhoff woke up Wednesday morning thinking he lost his Riverton City Council bid by three votes.
It wasn't until he called to give congratulations to his opponent, Galen Mills, that Brinkerhoff realized he might still have a shot at taking his wife's place in the city's government. Until the vote is canvassed and made official on Nov. 20, uncounted absentee and provisional ballots could still swing the results and put Brinkerhoff in office.
"If Galen wins, I will support him wholeheartedly," Brinkerhoff said of his opponent, who is a long-time family friend. "If he loses (the election) by a mail in, that would be a shame, but if that happens, that happens, and we both realize that. If it doesn't happen, then we'll carry on like he won in the first place and everything will be hunky-dory."
Mills won 541 votes in Tuesday's election, just barely beating Brinkerhoff's 538 votes. According to state law, the margin of Mills' win is small enough that Brinkerhoff could call for a recount after the city canvasses the election and makes the results official on Nov. 20. Until then, neither candidate is being considered officially elected by the city.
"We're in limbo until the 20th," said Riverton city recorder Virginia Loader.
The hope that Tuesday's election results could change has encouraged Brinkerhoff, who said he was disappointed to be behind by three votes. Brinkerhoff says he hesitated to run against his friend, but he still hopes to win.
"You run a campaign and you put up your signs and you put out the literature and you hope things go your way, but if they don't, they don't, and you move on," Brinkerhoff said. "I'd be lying if I said it wasn't disappointing."
The close race has made some of the candidates' supporters realize the value of their vote. Mills fielded phone calls on Wednesday from family members who said they were surprised at how close the race was.
"If two people decided not to vote for me, Randy would be ahead," Mills said. "Every vote does count."
While Brinkerhoff says he is relieved to not have to campaign for the next two weeks until the results come in, Mills says he's on edge, waiting to see if he will hold on to his win."I'll be wondering," Mills said. "It's like it's Christmas Eve for two more weeks. This is probably the only game in town where you can be ahead (at the end of the game) and have to go into overtime to find out what the outcome is."