Baker Leads in Chief's Race

Tahlequah, OK – TAHLEQUAH, Okla. (AP) Challenger Bill John Baker has an early lead over former Principal Chief Chad Smith in early returns in the Cherokee Nation election.

The tribe's Election Commission says Baker led early Sunday afternoon by a margin of 61 percent to 39 percent.

The commission says it has tallied returns from Sept. 24 precinct voting and walk-in voting at the tribe's election office in Tahlequah. Pending are far-flung at-large votes cast in up to 12,000 absentee ballots.

Baker had 6,223 votes to 4,046 for Smith.

A winner may not be confirmed until Wednesday.

The election that began Sept. 24 was scheduled after the result of a June 25 election was invalidated. Smith and Baker were each twice declared the winner and questions were raised about how the ballots were handled and stored.