SALT LAKE CITY — About 5,000 ballots remain uncounted in Salt Lake City's mayoral race, a number that does not bode well for Ralph Becker.
The two-term mayor lagged 1,450 votes behind challenger Jackie Biskupski in Tuesday's unofficial election results, receiving 48 percent to Biskupski's 52 percent of roughly 33,000 votes.
To overcome that deficit, Becker would need to capture about 65 percent of the remaining votes, according to Salt Lake City Recorder Cindi Mansell.
"I wouldn't assume the game is over, but it very well could be," Mansell said.
Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen said the remaining ballots include provisional ballots and vote-by-mail ballots that were hand-delivered to polling places on Election Day.
"It is improbable, although not impossible, that I will close the gap," Becker said in a statement Thursday. "My campaign and I will continue to evaluate our options going forward, but I also recognize that I promised my supporters that I would wait for the final tally."
Biskupski was not available for comment Thursday, but campaign spokeswoman Maryann Martindale called Becker closing the voting gap "beyond a long shot."
"It's just not statistically possible," Martindale said. "It's too big of a margin to make up with far too few votes."
University of Utah political science professor Matthew Burbank agreed.
"Unless there's a very unusual pattern in those remaining ballots, I think it's very unlikely that Becker could overcome Biskupski's lead," Burbank said. "The Becker campaign has said these late-arriving ballots are going to help them, but I don't see any strong reason to believe that."
By law, final results cannot be made public until they are certified with an official canvass Nov. 17.
Mansell said there is still a possibility the ballots could have come from a geographical area that heavily supported Becker, but Burbank said there didn't seem to be anything about either campaign that would indicate Becker would be particularly strong in certain areas.
"My guess would be that the pattern you see with these late-arriving ballots will be similar to what happened on election night," Burbank said.
Now, Martindale said Biskupski just wants to see the race to come to a resolution.
"(Becker's campaign) is going to be looking at the same numbers and doing the same math as we are," she said. "If he decides to concede, then it would allow (Biskupski) to start pulling together a transition team and actually start working. There is a very small window that she has to do this, so the more time the better. We want to make the transition as smooth as possible and just get back to the business of running the city."
Becker said he understands that Biskupski would like to begin conversations regarding her transition, and he "certainly welcomes her to do so."
"I've always permitted and encouraged my department directors to meet with political candidates to educate and provide information on the daily operations of the city," Becker said. "Additionally, (Biskupski) is also welcome to reach out to me and the mayor's office if she has any questions regarding city government.
"This has been a long and very hard-fought campaign," he added. "With just over 10 days until the final tally, we will know the final results soon."
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