Early on, it looks tight (UPDATED)

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Early numbers coming in ... too early to make any firm conclusions at 8:59 at night. (Only half or fewer of precincts are in for city council races.) But it's NEVER too soon for me to start doubting myself. And so far, the numbers are stacking up in a surprising pattern.

I'd suspected that if any council incumbent here was vulnerable, it would be Patrick Dowd, because he was the only incumbent not facing a split field of challengers. But right now, Dowd is leading by a two-to-one margin.

The other incumbents are squeaking by, largely on the basis of split opposition. Here are the numbers so far:

Member of Council DISTRICT 1
Bobby Wilson . . . . . . . . . 134
Vince Pallus . . . . . . . . . 345
Darlene M. Harris. . . . . . . . 403
Steven P. Oberst . . . . . . . . 73

Member of Council DISTRICT 3

Jeffrey S. Koch . . . . . . . . 374
Gavin Robb . . . . . . . . . . 23
Jason Phillips. . . . . . . . . 36
Bruce A. Kraus. . . . . . . . . 490

Member of Council DISTRICT 5
Corey O'Connor. . . . . . . . . 1,714
Christopher Zurawsky. . . . . . . 551

Member of Council DISTRICT 7
Anthony Mark Ceoffe . . . . . . . 943
Patrick Dowd . . . . . . . . . 1,584

Member of Council DISTRICT 9
Ricky Burgess . . . . . . . . . 758
Lucille Prater-Holliday. . . . . . 525
Phyllis Copeland-Mitchell . . . . . 321

ADDED (9:12 p.m.): Incumbents now appear to be pulling away ... except for Darlene Harris, where it's touch-and-go and could be a long night. This is the mayor's backyard -- if he can't oust Harris, it's a big win for the progressives.

ADDED (9:22 p.m.) I'm gonna call it for all the incumbents on council except Harris. Who at this point is trailing Pallus by 18 votes. Oh, and Corey O'Connor has blown Chris Zurawsky out of the water, but you knew that already.  

ADDED (9:25 p.m.) Chelsa Wagner looks pretty comfortable. She's up by 16,000 over Valerie McDonald Roberts, and 22,000 over George Matta. Two-thirds of the precincts have reported in, but it's pretty hard to see either McDonald Roberts or Matta closing that gap. 

And Fitzgerald looks solid over Flaherty, up by 10,000 votes with nearly two-thirds of precincts in -- I'll confess I'm surprised.

ADDED (9:40 p.m.) Fitzgerald has expanded his lead to 12,000 votes, with nearly 85 percent of precincts reporting. Mark it down: The gas industry will have a friend listening to it in November after all!

ADDED (9:46): More than 1,000 write-in votes cast in the county executive race. Can't be sure whose name they write yet, and that isn' so many names -- 835 write-ins were cast in the uncontested Democratic primary for District Attorney. Still, it looks like Dana Dolney excited some folks.

ADDED (9:51 p.m.): Hugh McGough has trounced Doug Shields by a 14.5-percent margin. Things were "very quiet" over at the Shields campaign event tonight, according to staff writer Chris Young. Around 9:30 p.m., when returns showed Shields trailing McGough by roughly 15 percentage points, one Shields campaign worker clutched her face and said, "Oh, kill me."

And our very own Lauren Daley caught up with current county executive Dan Onorato at the Fitzgerald Election Night party. Asked bout predictions of experts that Flaherty would win, Onorato said, "A lot of people make predictions. In local races especially, you gotta be careful not to watch those. Tonight is a big win for Rich Fitzgerald and his family. I will do whatever I can for him [but] I don't think he needs my advice."

ADDED (10:01 p.m.): Darlene Harris camp is declaring victory. Still two precincts left to report, but she's up by 75, which ought to be enough.

Bottom line: Big night for progressives. Hard to see an upside for Ravenstahl -- unless everything Chris Zurawsky said about Corey O'Connor is true.  

ADDED (10:11 p.m) Dowd is now on KQV. Asked about what his re-election means for his relationship with the mayor, Dowd says. "We'll take it as it comes -- each vote and each issue ... I've worked sometimes with the mayor, sometimes against the mayor ... but always with the interests of the district in mind."

Will this election change the way council and the mayor relate? "You're going to have to go and talk with him about that."

Dowd also pimps controller Mike Lamb's win -- which is an odd thing to do, inasmuch as Mike Lamb was running unopposed.

ADDED (10:20 p.m.): Corey O'Connor also appears on KQV, promising to be "an independent voice" on council, willing to speak and work with everyone in city government. 

ADDED (10:25 p.m.): More reactions from the Fitzgerald victory party, where our Lauren Daley is on the scene. 

Charles Martoni, who has long worked with Fitzgerald on county council: "The other guy, he's a nice guy but he was aloof. Rich is right there In the trenches"

And here's how Jim Burn, who chairs both the county and state Democratic committee, explained the Fitzgerald victory: "Two words: Hard work. That man wanted it. He wanted it for years and he got the results."

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