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Carney claims victory in Hot Springs mayoral race

It's all down to a matter of 26 votes, only a slightly larger margin up from a 22 vote difference on Election Day in the race for Hot Springs mayor. Incumbent Mayor Ruth Carney, despite the race being certified, has claimed victory.

Election commissioners were hard at work on Wednesday tallying nearly 670 extra absentee ballots by hand, adding to the total from tallies taken on November 4th. Wednesday's count left Carney with 3,860 votes, slightly leading challenger City Director Pat McCabe with 3,834. Third mayoral candidate David Quast finished Wednesday's tally with only 1,745 votes.

"We're claiming victory," said Carney. "I'm tired of waiting. I've got to send out my e-mails."

Carney and supporters were present at the Garland County Election Commission on Wednesday as the additional votes were being counted. Talk of a potential runoff election were quickly ditched Wednesday afternoon after election laws were cleared up - a Hot Springs mayoral race is governed by plurality rule, meaning whomever has the most votes wins.

But the election commission hasn't certified the race yet, since several provisional ballots and votes from members of the armed services haven't been received yet.

"All the overseas ballots, they still have to be counted," said Ginna Watson, chair of the Garland County Election Commission. "We have to wait until the county clerk closes that ten day period to make sure that we have all the ballots."

The incumbent mayor and her supporters don't believe the outstanding ballots will override her current lead against McCabe - believing the 26 vote lead she has is enough to declare a win.

"I was just surprised it was that close," said Carney. "I mean usually maybe a hundred votes or something, but that's very close."

KATV reached out to Pat McCabe for a comment, but did not receive a call back by press time.

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