Attorney Sheryl Gordon McCloud wins a six-year term on the state Supreme Court, turning back former Justice Richard Sanders, with King County heavily in her favor.

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Longtime appellate attorney Sheryl Gordon McCloud won a six-year term on the state Supreme Court, defeating former Supreme Court Justice Richard Sanders.

McCloud was leading Tuesday night with 55 percent of the initial vote count, including more than 64 percent in vote-heavy King County.

Sanders served on the state court for 15 years before losing his seat two years ago amid controversial remarks about certain minority groups having a crime problem.

McCloud said Sanders called to congratulate her. “He said he had a tremendous amount of respect for me” and “keep doing the right thing.”

McCloud noted she began as an underdog and had to work hard. “I intend to bring all that hard work to the court and I am really looking forward to it,” she said.

Both candidates portrayed themselves as passionate defenders of constitutional rights.

But in their battle to replace Justice Tom Chambers, who is retiring from the court, McCloud criticized Sanders for making what she called “intemperate comments” when he was a justice.

Sanders, of Vashon Island, faulted McCloud for her predominant background in criminal law, saying as a justice he heard a broader array of cases.

In two other races, Justices Steve Gonzalez and Susan Owens were elected to new terms after garnering more than 50 percent of the primary vote and advancing unopposed to the general election.

Steve Miletich: