Former Bellevue Mayor Grant Degginger has conceded the race for Port Commissioner Position 2 to challenger Sam Cho, who is leading with 58.5% of the vote, as of Thursday’s ballot count.

Cho came out of Tuesday’s ballot count leading by 56.8%, a wider gap than expected in what was predicted to be a tight race.

Cho, 29, a former legislative assistant and the owner of a $2 million egg-product export business, has never held elected office before. But he was backed in the race by a slew of big Washington names, especially from the Asian American community. State Sen. Bob Hasegawa and former Gov. Gary Locke were both early supporters.

“It’s a surreal feeling,” Cho said, of learning that he had won the race. “I don’t know if it’s fully hit me yet.”

Sam Cho, a former legislative assistant and the owner of a $2 million egg-product export business,  will take office in January as Position 2 member of the Port of Seattle Commission.
Sam Cho, a former legislative assistant and the owner of a $2 million egg-product export business, will take office in January as Position 2 member of the Port of Seattle Commission.

Degginger conceded in a phone call to Cho Thursday afternoon.

When Cho takes office in January, he will be the only minority member of the five-member Port Commission. His campaign stressed that he would advocate minority-owned businesses get a larger share of Port contracts.

With that in mind, he said he’s keeping a close eye on the progress of Referendum 88, which currently is narrowly trailing by 49.4% to 50.6%. If passed, the referendum would pave the way to re-institute affirmative action in the state.

The Seattle Times called the race for the other open Port Commission seat in favor of the incumbent Fred Felleman after Tuesday’s vote count showed Felleman leading challenger Garth Jacobson with nearly 70% of the vote.

On the Port Commission’s plate in the coming year is overseeing a $6.5 billion expansion plan for Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.