Former Justice Richard Sanders' bid to return to the Washington Supreme Court is still alive.

Former Justice Richard Sanders’ bid to return to the Washington Supreme Court is still alive.

Sanders was holding onto second place as more ballots were counted from Tuesday’s primary. He trailed Seattle appeals lawyer Sheryl Gordon McCloud in the race to replace retiring Justice Tom Chambers, but he had a shrinking lead over King County Superior Court Judge Bruce Hilyer.

Hilyer gained about 10,000 votes on Sanders on Friday, but he still trailed by more than 14,000 out of 1 million counted.

About 61,000 of the nearly 148,000 ballots still to be counted are from King County, where Hilyer has been doing well and making up ground.

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McCloud had 29.5 percent of the vote; Sanders, 28.3 percent; and Hilyer, 26.9 percent. Former Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg is running a distant fourth with 15.3 percent.

If the results hold, Sanders and McCloud would face off in the general election in November.

Sanders is known for his libertarian leanings, for siding with defendants in criminal appeals and for sometimes startling remarks. He served 15 years on the Supreme Court. In 2010, he lost a re-election bid to experienced appellate lawyer Charlie Wiggins by just 13,000 votes out of nearly 2 million cast.

He once yelled “tyrant!” at then-U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey at a black-tie dinner in Washington, D.C., and shortly before the 2010 election, he drew criticism for questioning the notion that systemic bias is part of the reason certain minority groups are overrepresented in the prison population.

Hilyer raised far more money than anyone else in the campaign — nearly $204,000 to Sanders’ $125,000, McCloud’s $117,000 and Ladenburg’s $72,000. Hilyer has been a King County Superior Court judge for 12 years.