Incumbent Councilwoman Kate Triggiano led three other candidates after a rare Red Bank Democratic primary challenge Tuesday.

But the race for two openings on the party ticket in November was far from settled, with the second spot an even closer call.

Seeking second three-year terms, Triggiano and Hazim Yassin faced an almost unheard-of challenge by the local party establishment, which gave its backing to political newcomers Bruce Maida and Jacqueline Sturdivant.

As of 10 p.m., with in-person votes in from all nine polling districts, Triggiano was the top vote-getter, with 552 votes, followed by Sturdivant, with 511; Yassin, with  502; and Maida with 464, according to the Monmouth County Clerk’s website.

The results are unofficial, with provisional votes not yet tallied and mail-in ballots postmarked by 8 p.m. counted for up to six days.

At a gathering with supporters at the the Red Rock Tap + Grill on Wharf Avenue, Triggiano told redbankgreen it was premature to discuss a possible split ticket.

The two “placeholder” candidates on the Republican primary ballot, party Chairman Jonathan Maciel Penney and Christine Stout, drew 247 votes each.

Last September, in his second consecutive run for council, Penney and running mate Brian Irwin – also a self-described “placeholder – dropped out the general election, clearing the path for incumbents Ed Zipprich and Michael Ballard.

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