From a field of five, two candidates had emerged in early reports as front-runners in Tuesday's mayoral election, likely to secure a spot on ballots Nov. 26, for a runoff race.
With 16 precincts reporting at 10:15 p.m. Tuesday, the incumbent, Mayor Bob Young, was the top vote-getter, securing 39 percent of the votes. Former Augusta Mayor Ed McIntyre received the second-highest percentage of votes, with 37 percent.
The two are expected to face off in a runoff election to determine who will be the mayor of Augusta.
"It's too early to tell anything, there's not any kind of trend; there's just numbers," Mr. Young said of the early returns. "It's too early to say anything to read anything into these numbers."
To win without a runoff, one candidate would have had to receive at least 45 percent of the votes, which pundits have said would be difficult with so many people vying for the job.
Early totals showed downtown businesswoman Bonnie Ruben as the third-place contender, trailing with only 13 percent of the vote - 24 percentage points behind Mr. McIntyre's second-place spot.
Former state Rep. Robin Williams had received about 8 percent of the vote. Augusta garden center owner Bobby Ross received 2 percent.
The countywide race has been one of the most closely watched and widely debated, with four challengers seeking to unseat Mr. Young.
He was seeking his second term in office and ran a campaign grounded largely in his accomplishments during the past four years, including restoring jobs at King Mill, coordinating a small-business panel and hiring City Administrator George Kolb.
Mr. McIntyre served as the city's first black mayor from 1982 to 1984 and tried unsuccessfully two more times - in 1990 and 1998 - to reclaim the seat. He lost to Mr. Young four years ago in a runoff election with 45 percent of the votes to Mr. Young's 55 percent.
Ms. Ruben, an Augusta businesswoman who qualified for the seat somewhat unexpectedly, was called the wild card of the mayoral race. She owns two downtown businesses: The Ramada Plaza hotel and Ruben's Department store, both of which are on Broad Street.
Reach Heidi Coryell Williams at (706) 823-3215 or firstname.lastname@example.org.