West Marin's Norman Solomon is not conceding yet to Republican Dan Roberts in the race for second place in Congressional District No. 2, which runs from Marin all the way up to Del Norte County on the Oregon border.Because of California's new "Top-Two" primary system, Democrat Solomon would face off against fellow party member and primary winner Jared Huffman if Solomon manages to surpass Roberts in votes.
Solomon sent out a press release this afternoon highlighting the fact that the Secretary of State has designated the race a "Close Contest."
As of 11:01 a.m. this morning, Roberts led Solomon by 1,379 votes. The Solomon campaign, citing newspaper reports and county registrars, says there are at least 40,000 votes still uncounted in the district.
"Until those votes are registered and tabulatedm it would be premature for Mr. Roberts or myself to claim victory," Solomon told KQED's Mina Kim today. "The latest margin number is 1.1 percent, and the trend line election night was moving toward me. We have a lot of reason to believe that as those who voted on election day or just before election day pondered their choices, there was movement toward me."
Still, winner Jared Huffman received more votes than Solomon and Roberts combined. Might that render a second-place finish leading to a spot in the general election a Pyrrhic victory?
"Well Huffman wasn't able to consolidate a majority," Solomon said. "And in fact we had a total of eight Democrats running, including several who are genuine progressives, unlike Huffman. So I have a lot of reason to believe the voters who went behind half-a-dozen other candidates besides myself would support the genuine progressive in the runoff. And that would be me.
"This election is not over," Solomon said.
David McCuan, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Sonoma State University, told Mina Kim that may be true, technically, but it's unlikely that Solomon will overtake Roberts.
"It's not statistically impossible but unlikely, because while are a large number of uncounted ballots in Marin, Sonoma and Mendocino counties, areas where Norman might nominally do well, you have 12 candidates in the race. He has to win by my estimate somewhere between 30 and 35% of the remaining votes in order to overtake Roberts."
McCuan said that today's endorsement of Huffman by the current occupant of the seat, retiring congresswoman Lynn Woolsey, is also problematic for Solomon.
"One of Norman's principal assertions during the campaign was that he was the heir apparent to [Woolsey's] legacy as a protector of progressive-activist values. He's portrayed himself as the only person in the race who can accept that mantle as Lynn Woolsey Part II, and by Woolsey coming out and endorsing Jared Huffman, who locked up just about every endorsement in the district, it places additional pressure on Norman to accept whatever the numbers look like."
McCuan also suggested that nationally, Democrats might like to see Huffman face off against Roberts, the Republican, rather than fellow Democrat Solomon.
"There's a broader problem going on here," McCuan continued. "Democrats are going to face a number of Democrat-on-Democrat general elections up and down California. Democrats nationally were hoping to pick up five seats in California to help them regain the house; they need 25 seats to do that. If you have a Jared Huffman-on-Norman Solomon general election fight in November...resources flow into that race that otherwise might go into other more competitive races. So this type of Dem-on-Dem party violence is something that national Democrats want to avoid as much as possible."