Final Update on Races Too Close to Call

Physician Ami Bera (D) won a hotly contested House seat over incumbent Dan Lungren (R). (Randy Payne/Flickr)

Physician Ami Bera (D) won a hotly contested House seat over incumbent Dan Lungren (R). (Randy Payne/Flickr)

The election blog is coming to an end soon <sniff!> so this is the last update I’ll be posting on those stubbornly close races. Most of them were decided yesterday. There are still 1.7 million votes [PDF] to count statewide.

Jump for joy or read ‘em and weep. Counties have until December 7 to send final counts to the state. The secretary of state must certify the election by December 14.

Many of the close races we have kept an eye on are in Alameda County which finished counting votes yesterday. Here is an update on all the races we’ve been following:

Congressional Races

It’s Over: Bera Beats Lungren

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Republican Rep. Dan Lungren has lost his re-election bid to Democratic challenger Ami Bera in one of California’s most hotly contested congressional contests.

Voters from the Sacramento suburbs ousted the veteran lawmaker in the race for the state’s newly redrawn 7th Congressional District. This was the second attempt for Bera, a 45-year-old physician who failed to unseat Lungren two years ago.

The Associated Press called the race for Bera on Thursday. He defeated Lungren 51.1 percent to 48.9 percent.

Bera’s win adds to Democratic gains in California’s congressional races. The state’s majority party benefited from an independent redistricting process that was in full effect for the first time this year.

Before the Nov. 6 election, California’s congressional delegation had 33 Democrats, 19 Republicans and one vacancy in a Democratic district.

UPDATE: Races Too Close to Call

Dan Lungren and Ami Bera are locked in a tighter than tight race. (Photos: Republican Conference and Randy Bayne via Flickr)

The number of too-close-to-call races is shrinking. Many counties continued to count votes over the holiday weekend. They have until December 7 to report their final results.The secretary of state will certify the election by December 14.

Of special note in these races is the make up of the California Congressional delegation. You’ve heard all about the Democratic supermajority in the state legislature.

At the national level, California Democrats have also gained ground. In the current Congress, the 112th, Democrats hold 34 of 53 House seats. In the new Congress, the 113th, Democrats have definitively picked up two seats, a sure total of 36 seats. There are two other races too-close-to-call, but it’s looking like Democrats will win. That would bring California’s Democratic Congressional delegation to 38 seats out of 53.

Here is an update on the races we’ve been following:

Congressional Races Continue reading

Too Close to Call! List of Still-Undecided Contests Across California

In this 2008 photo, workers sort California mail in ballots. (Justin Sullivan: Getty Images)

In this 2008 photo, workers sort California mail in ballots. (Justin Sullivan: Getty Images)

With estimates that for the first time vote-by-mail will exceed in-person voting in California, county voting officials are presumably working hard to get all votes counted. Counties are required to report their final results by December 7, and the secretary of state will certify the election by December 14.

In the meantime well over a million mail and provisional ballots are still being counted statewide.

Here are the races still too close to call:

Congressional Races

  • Bera v. Lungren (7th Congressional District): The political newsletter The Nooner reports that Bera is ahead by 182 votes with 193,000 uncounted ballots. Next update is Friday, 3pm.
  • Bilbray v. Peters (52nd Congressional District): Only a few hundred votes separate the San Diego candidates.
  • Ruiz v. Bono Mack (36th Congressional District): Ruiz is ahead, and local media have called the race for him. But Bono Mack has yet to concede.

Assembly Races

Continue reading

What’s It Like For a Candidate to Be in a Really, Really Tight Election?

Dan Lungren and Ami Bera are locked in a tighter than tight race. (Photos: Republican Conference and Randy Bayne via Flickr)

Democrat Ami Bera is currently up by 184 votes over incumbent Republican Dan Lungren in the District 7 House Race. And while the outcome of that particular contest is not going to determine control of Congress or anything; and while you are, also, not exactly in the habit of ascribing actual human emotions to people running for office…

If you put yourself in the place of the two candidates beyond the remembrance of their depictions in campaign ads that interrupted “Here Comes Honey Boo,” you may eventually get to a place where you realize how, for the contestants, such a close race must really suck.

Which brings to mind a post we did two years back about the 2002 election for California State Controller, when Steve Westly beat Tom McClintock by roughly 17,000 votes out of 6.5 million cast. That’s a margin of .3 percent, and it resulted in the closest California election in memory. (The 2010 Kamala Harris-Steve Cooley attorney general race was almost as close.)

Here’s Scott Shafer’s interview with Steve Westly about what it was like emotionally to get snagged on this type of nailbiting vote count, and what the candidates who do face from a logistical standpoint.

“You’ve been running with every bit of energy you have for two years nonstop and you finally get to election day and your whole psyche is based on are you going to win or not, and then you realize you’re in a close race, and you watch into the wee hours of the morning. And in my case, they literally, county by county, dismissed the vote counters at midnight or one and they still had votes to count and it was still a tie. So you’re stuck… It dragged on for I believe 21 days, and it is a little nervewracking…”

Scott Shafer interviews Steve Westly:

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London Breed Defeats Christina Olague in District 5

San Francisco has released the updated unofficial results from its latest round of ranked-voice voting tabulations, putting supervisorial candidate London Breed at 56 percent of the vote in District 5. That should preclude further ranked-choice rounds and make Breed the winner.

Olague campaign consultant Enrique Pearce has already told the Chronicle that “barring some sort of miracle, London Breed is going to be the next supervisor for District Five.” The Examiner, SF Weekly and ABC News have crowned Breed the winner,  not to mention her campaign’s Facebook page.

Christina Olague, no longer District 5's supervisor

You will recall, naturally, how l’affaire Mirkarimi insinuated itself into this race. Olague was appointed by Mayor Ed Lee to replace Mirkarimi after he won election as sheriff. Then, well, you remember the rest.
(For the love of God please don’t make us recap it again.)

But long story short: Olague was one of four supervisors to defy Ed Lee and vote not to remove Mirkarimi on an official misconduct charge related to a domestic violence incident between him and his wife. Lee did not withdraw his endorsement of Olague but he was plenty mad, and some of his political allies took aim at the erstwhile recipient of the mayor’s largesse. There was talk of a recall, and the Chronicle reported that Tony Winnicker, a Lee advisor and former press secretary, sent Olague a text that said, “As your constituent, you disgust me. You are the most ungrateful and dishonorable person ever to serve on the board. You should resign in disgrace.”

Anti-domestic violence advocates also released an 11th-hour attack ad against Olague criticizing her for her vote against removing  Mirkarimi from office. That couldn’t have helped. Continue reading

The House: Berman on Sherman and More Political Fratricide in California

What's more awkward than two belles sharing the same stage in the same dress? Two political candidates from the same party in a knock-down, drag-out fight to the bitter finish in November!

What's more awkward than two belles sharing the same stage in the same dress? Two political candidates from the same party in a knock-down, drag-out fight to the bitter finish in November!

Granted, California was not a swing state in the presidential election. We’re so dominated by Democrats, it’s hard to imagine anybody so much as blinked when Barack Obama won here. And Dianne Feinstein’s next term in the U.S. Senate? Even loyal Republicans were calling that one for her before the ballots were published.

But even in a True Blue state like this one, there was plenty of blood spilled in the California delegation to the House of Representatives. Between the way Congressional districts were redrawn after the last US Census and the state’s new top-two primary system, the stage was set for some high-pitched theater in two Republican districts and six Democratic ones. You might think that Democratic Party leaders would gather in some smoke-filled room somewhere in California and make the decisions required to avoid one party member going up against another. That’s not how it played out.

Continue reading

Cash Influx Makes Oakland School Board Races Competitive

by Lillian Mongeau

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Mary Prime-Lawrence canvasses East Oakland voters for GO. (Lillian Mongeau/KQED)

The role of money in politics is a big issue in many elections this year – including the race for four seats on the Oakland Schools Board of Education.

A local non-profit, the teachers’ union, and the board candidates themselves are expected to spend more than $300,000 on seats that have been uncontested in more than half the races since 2004.

Mary Prime-Lawrence is a dozen doors into her list of registered voters on 88th Avenue in East Oakland. She’s standing in the dark hallway of a rundown fourplex. Most people haven’t been home, so she smiles when the deadbolt slides open.

“Hi there. Is Michelle Logan in? Are you Michelle? She’s not here right now? Can I leave some information for her? If you can give her that. James Harris is running for school board. We hope she can give him her support November 6,” Prime-Lawrence asks.

After 40 minutes, Prime-Lawrence has met only two of the voters she’s looking for. The low numbers haven’t dampened her conviction that this is the right way to spend her Saturday morning.

“In Oakland if you are un- or under-educated, you are more likely to get pregnant, get someone pregnant. Be involved in gangs, in drugs, in violence. It’s a life and death issue for some people, for some children,” she says.
Continue reading

BART Board Election: Construction Companies Going After Director Lynette Sweet

by Zusha Elinson, The Bay Citizen

Construction companies are pumping tens of thousands of dollars into the race for the Bay Area Rapid Transit board in an effort to unseat incumbent Director Lynette Sweet.

Photo by Thor Swift for The Bay Citizen

The construction firms accuse Sweet of meddling in bids for BART construction work and are backing 25-year-old Zakhary Mallett, who until recently was a UC Berkeley graduate student. Sweet’s backers counter that she is being punished for standing up to BART contractors who shortchange and discriminate against minority subcontractors.

The heated contest underscores a fact that often goes unnoticed by the 400,000 daily BART riders: One of the transit agency’s main functions is handing out billions of dollars in contracts for construction, track repair and new BART cars. This year alone, the transit agency has awarded $2 billion in contracts. The board’s elections and policies often are shaped by contractors who have a financial interest in the outcome. Continue reading

San Diego Mayoral Candidates Fighting to Appeal to Undecided Voters

City Councilman Carl DeMaio (R) and Congressman Bob Filner (D) are facing off in the San Diego mayor's race.  Credit: DeMaio and Filner Campaigns

Republican City Councilman Carl DeMaio (left) and Democratic Congressman Bob Filner (right) are facing off in the San Diego mayor's race. (Images: DeMaio and Filner campaigns)

On a sunny day this fall, Republican city councilman Carl DeMaio and San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders walked through a local, bayside park to a podium surrounded by a barrage of news cameras and reporters.

It was a good day for DeMaio. The mayor, a fellow Republican, was endorsing him — despite the two being long time political foes.

“Only one candidate has demonstrated the detailed knowledge of our city that will be required from his first day on the job.” Sanders intoned. “Only one candidate has the focus and the energy that will sustain him through difficult times. That candidate is Carl DeMaio.”

Sanders’ endorsement was followed a few days later by the announcement that Democratic philanthropist Irwin Jacobs was also supporting DeMaio.

But it hasn’t been a bad season for Democratic Congressman Bob Filner either. He’s consistently led in the mayoral polls. Still, as the election draws closer, the outcome is becoming harder to predict. Different polls yield different results. In mid-October one poll gave Filner a seven point lead, while another put DeMaio ten points ahead. Continue reading