The race to replace Henderson Mayor Jim Gibson featured two candidates who looked nearly identical in many respects, so it's no wonder voters couldn't seem to make up their minds.
The contest swung back and forth as results trickled in Tuesday night. In the end, Andy Hafen edged out fellow City Councilman Steve Kirk, but the outcome was far from decisive.
Once all 19,355 ballots were counted, just 45 votes separated the two candidates, according to unofficial results.
"It was like getting hit in the gut," Kirk said.
After the final numbers were posted, Kirk said he called Hafen and congratulated him.
A weary-sounding Kirk said he hadn't even considered the possibility of a recount yet.
"It's not off the table. I don't even know the process," he said.
According to Clark County Registrar of Voters Larry Lomax, a candidate or anyone else can request a recount, but not until the election results are made official through a canvass by the Henderson City Council slated for June 9.
Once that happens, a challenger will have three days to file for a recount and submit a check to pay for it, Lomax said.
For Hafen, this could mark the second straight election to end in a recount. In 2007, he won his sixth term on the council by 169 votes, but his opponent, Thomas Wagner, challenged the results.
That recount failed to find even a single vote out of place.
Some states conduct automatic recounts in extremely close races, but Nevada has no such law, Lomax said.
Hafen said he was happy with the win, "but certainly there are a lot of people out there that I am going to have to show that I'm a good mayor."
Hafen, 55, and Kirk, 50, fought a costly battle to distinguish themselves from one another. The two shelled out more than $770,000 between them, the most ever for a Henderson municipal election.
"It has been an exhausting five months," Hafen said. "I just knew if we worked hard we'd be successful. And Steve worked hard too. I'll give him that."
"All I can tell you is we did the best we could with what we had," Kirk said. "We have no regrets whatsoever."
In the city's only other contest, a lopsided campaign yielded a lopsided result as Kathleen Boutin easily won the Ward 3 City Council seat over Cathy Rosenfield.
Boutin captured 62 percent of the vote compared with Rosenfield's 38 percent. It was the first run for elected office for both, but Boutin, 41, spent about 22 times more money than did Rosenfield, 50.
Boutin will replace four-term Councilman Jack Clark, who was prevented from running again because of term limits.
Tuesday's winners are slated to be sworn in on June 16, after which the council is expected to vote on how to fill the council seat vacated by the new mayor.
"That's the plan right now anyway," City Clerk Monica Simmons said.
If the council opts to hold a special election, it could take up to three months to fill the vacant seat. If the members go with an appointment process, it would take 30 days or less, Simmons said.
Voter turnout citywide was less than 15 percent.
Bill Hassan cast his ballot at the Galleria at Sunset mall on Tuesday, but only because he had the day off and his wife was already going there to vote.
"I probably wouldn't have if I'd been working," he said. "I doubt we're going to see a lot of change in Henderson just because we have a new mayor."
Rebecca Hill offered the opposite view after casting her ballot at the Galleria with her two children in tow.
Voting may be "more of an effort when it's a small civic election," she said, but "it's also a more important voting opportunity."
"There is so much more access to these candidates and elected officials," Hill said.
Review-Journal writer Lawrence Mower contributed to this report. Contact reporter Henry Brean at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0350.