RIVERBANK -- Richard O'Brien has been there before, leading Virginia Madueño after the initial returns in a mayoral race.
So pardon him, despite holding a 144-vote lead with all of the city's 12 precincts reporting, if he isn't yet ready to celebrate.
"There's 4,000 votes still out there," the councilman said Tuesday night before later returns became available. "I'm optimistic
it's a pretty good upside."
Still, he remembers the November 2009 race when he led Madueño early only to be overtaken and lose by 110 votes.
Nor is the incumbent Madueño ready to concede not after this campaign, a heated and intense one in which the candidates sparred over how the city is being led and how each would lead it into the future.
"Let's just wait," she said hours before numbers early Wednesday showing O'Brien with 2,288 votes, or 51.5 percent, to her 2,144, or 48 percent.
Throughout the campaign, Madueño heralded Riverbank's finances as being strong under her leadership, citing a balanced budget and new businesses coming into the old ammunition plant the Army turned over to the city 2½ years ago.
O'Brien contradicted her assessment, citing the $15.4 million debt the city's redevelopment agency incurred and then walked away from during her watch, along with legal bills from a failed attempt to oust Councilman Jesse James White.
As Election Day neared, it became obvious to both that it would be a tight race. That certainly is playing out, and both candidates are prepared for what they expect to be an interesting next day or so.
"It's been a long, long, hard-fought fight," Madueño said. "I feel really good about what we've done and I'm looking forward to whatever happens from here on out."
O'Brien, meanwhile, attended an event with his wife before returning to his home to monitor the numbers.
"It's going to be really close," he said.
Should O'Brien hold on, the council will need to determine how it will fill his vacated council seat. He is not, however, up for re-election as a council member and will remain on the council should Madueño win.
Meanwhile, seven candidates competed for two council seats, one of which is being vacated by White, who faces criminal charges stemming from an auto accident that involved his young son.
With all of the city's 12 precincts reporting, incumbent Jeanine D. Tucker led with 1,453 votes, or 20.5 percent, and Darlene Barber-Martinez (1,319 votes, 18.6 percent) awoke this mornng to find she had passed Cal Campbell (1,311, 18.5 percent).
Jeff Jardine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, (209) 578-2383 or on Twitter @jeffjardine57.