Voting booths await early voters at Ketchikan’s Gateway Recreation Center on Oct. 20 (Eric Stone/KRBD)

The race for state House District 36 is too early to call as of late Tuesday night.

That’s the seat held by Ketchikan independent Dan Ortiz. He faces Republican challenger Leslie Becker.

Ortiz enjoyed a lead by roughly 12 percentage points just before midnight, but the race is far from over. That’s because at least three precincts still need to report in: Wrangell, Saxman and a rural precinct south of Ketchikan. And there are at least 2,800 absentee ballots that won’t be tallied until next week.

Ortiz told KRBD late Tuesday he predicts a long road ahead. And he praised the higher-than-normal turnout across the district.

“I thought that was a positive thing,” Ortiz said in a phone interview. “Also feel good, obviously, to be up rather than down, although it’s certainly way too early to call any kind of race at this point.”

Becker, reached Tuesday evening, declined to comment.

Dan Ortiz has held the seat since 2014. Leslie Becker recently completed a term as a member of Ketchikan’s school board. This is her first run for state office.

House District 36 includes Ketchikan, Wrangell, Metlakatla, Hydaburg and several smaller communities across the southern panhandle.

Absentee ballots won’t be counted until Nov. 10. That means it could be awhile before a clear winner is known.