Cleaning Up the Crumbs: Election Results Roundup Four Days Before Every County’s Final Totals are Due

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Just a few bits left to process.

Just a few bits left to process.

This is part of a series that is (mostly) just for election tabulation nerds who enjoy the minutiae of a statewide vote count.  This particular one will introduce readers to some of the less obvious tools at the Secretary of State’s Election Reporting site.

It was a big day on Friday July 1, according to the “County Reporting Status” page, with 21 of California’s 58 counties updating their numbers.  (Riverside was the last of them, at 6:33 p.m.)  Looking at the final row on the page, labeled “Report Type” (and focusing on non-Presidential races), 12 of these — Alameda, Alpine, Contra Costa, Inyo, Kings, Mendocino,  San Bernardino, San Joaquin, San Luis Obispo, Siskiyou, Stanislaus, and Ventura– have a CCC status, indicating that their reporting is now finished.  (“Finished” might best be in quotes, as some counties will still have minor adjustments; Orange County finished last week, for example, but still turned in another update on Thursday.)  “CCU” status, indicating that the county canvass is updated but not completed, applies to 9 others: — El Dorado, Fresno, Imperial, Los Angeles, Merced, Riverside, San Benito, San Diego, and Tulare — which reported today but still have votes left to count.  Three counties — Humboldt, Placer, and Sonoma — are still stuck on “FENU” status, meaning that their last report is the Final Election Night Update.  (Why counties do this is a mystery to OJB.)  In the Presidential vote count, Lake is FENU and Sonoma is CCU.  Again, reporting one and not the other is a mystery to non-Registrars of Voters.

According to the Secretary of State’s “Unprocessed Ballot Report” page, only 287,782 ballots remain to be processed (as of 4:45 p.m., when Contra Costa reported but Riverside, San Diego, and Ventura counties had as yet not), 127,054 of them vote-by-mail (“VBM”) ballots, 156,022 of them provisionals, and 4,706 “Other” ballots — mostly damaged ballots or those resisting a clear optical scan.  In the Presidential race, 8,396,265 of the state’s 17,915,053 registered voters cast ballots, for 46.9% turnout.  But 8,400,906 voters — over 4,000 more! — cast a vote in at least one non-Presidential race.  Orange Juice Blog, which focuses its election coverage mostly locally, find this strangely, if slightly, reassuring about the world.

How many “major” contests — federal executive and legislative, state executive and legislative — were close enough to bear careful scrutiny?  We can check the “Close Contests” page: twelve of them, including our own AD-55 and AD-68.  The races designated as “close” are all for second place — i.e., making it into versus missing the Top Two — where the second- and third-place candidates are less than 2% apart.  It gives a fair sense of what’s going on in Top Two-land.

  • In CA-08 (that’s California’s 8th Congressional District, if you didn’t know), Santa Ana native and Chapman grad Rita Ramirez — who as “Ramirez-Dean” was the lowest vote-getter among the four Democrats who famously split the vote in CA-31 enough so that Republican Bob Dutton rather Democrat Pete Aguilar made it into the Top Two in what was a Democratic district by registration, leading to many pundit freakouts — looks like she well have finally made a runoff.   She leads by 1.1% over 2014 Republican Gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly in a race where almost 63% of the vote went for the GOP.  She’ll face incumbent Paul Cook — if you plan on betting on her in November, get good odds.
  • Nancy Pelosi got a comfortable 78.1% in her CA-12 primary.  NPP candidate Preston Picus has 7.7% of the vote over quintessentially-Republican-named Bob Miller at 7.6%.  A mere 50 votes currently separates them, so in a world where who ran against Pelosi mattered this would likely go to a recount.  But OJB doubts that we like in that world.  Green Party candidate Barry Hermanson got 6.6% of the vote.  (What sort of an independent is Preston Picus?  Here’s his platform:
    • Money Controlling Politics: If we don’t change how representatives get elected, it doesn’t matter what they say they believe in.
    • Marriage Equality: Finally, the Supreme Court gets something right! But the fight is not over. Sure some states will continue to fight against marriage equality, but more importantly our friends and families will continue to be discriminated against for their sexual orientation.
    • Abortion: It’s a woman’s body. The government shouldn’t be involved in an individual’s choices, but should ensure universal access to services.
    • Immigration: We need reform. It’s complicated. Racism and ‘fear of the Other’ goes too far. Matt Taibbi is right – There’s too much money to be made in deportation. Oh, and undocumented workers aren’t the ones taking your jobs. Tax dodging corporations are shipping your jobs overseas.
    • Education: The ‘privatize’ education group is destroying our public school system. Greed and pursuit of power has convinced too many folks that you can treat education like a business. You can’t.

Orange Juice Blog likes Preston Picus!

  • In Democratic-leaning CA-21, remarkably successful Republican David Valadao got 55.0% of the vote.  Emilio Huerta, son of legendary labor leader and prominent Clinton-poisoning victim Dolores Huerta, beat out moderate Dem Daniel Parra for second place.  Huerta will have an outside chance in the general election — but it would require unions to plow money into his race that could likely go to better bets.  And yet — how can’t they?  (Note: this race had been a close contest for weeks, but Huerta finally pulled away.)
  • Five Democrats were the only competitors in CA-29, where not particularly beloved partywide incumbent Tony Cardenas won an outright majority, apparently consolidating Republican support.  Richard Alarcon, who survived the “fake residency” purge in LA County, will be his opponent,
  • A lot of runoffs will feature two Democrats.  Nearby CA-32 is an unfortunate inclusion, as innocent-until-proven-guilty-but-still-widely-considered disgraced Assemblyman Roger Hernandez edged out Republican Gordon Fisher for the right to lose to incumbent Grace Napolitano, who got just over a majority of the vote.
  • Karen Bass, who won over 80% of the primary vote, will face a Democrat rather than a Republican in the CA-37 runoff.
  • In CA-53, incumbent Democrat Susan Davis will likely face James Veltmeyer rather than Jim Ash as her Republican opponent, although they are separated by only 290 votes.
  • Heavily Democratic AD-4 had a legitimate three-way contest, in which Democrat Cecilia Aguilar-Curry got 28.6%, Republican Charlie Schaupp got 28.1%, and Dan Wolk sneaked back into the picture with 26.3%.  Are Democrats better off with a Republican opponent here rather than a second Democrat?  Going only by partisanship rather than candidate quality, I’d have to say “yes.”  I don’t think that these Dem on Dem runoffs are particularly helpful in what are already Democratic districts, as they mostly serve to suck up Democratic money and divide Democratic volunteers.  This race was a big deal in CDP convention endorsements, as I recall.
  • In heavily Republican AD-6, Brian Caples got 20.7% to John Z’berg’s (that’s what it says!) 11.8%, but the likely November winner is Kevin Kiley, who beat fellow Republican “Repugnant Andy” Pugno 16.0% to 14.1%.
  • In AD-10, incumbent Marc Levine got over 66% of the vote.  He’ll face Republican Gregory Allen rather than Democrat Roni Jacobi, with 16.7%.  Again, probably a good thing.
  • In Republican-leaning AD-12, we have another “will it be a one- or a two-party runoff?” race, but this time it’s the Republicans in control.  Republican Ken Vogel got 25.6% and will face Republican Heath Flora, rather than Democrat Virginia Madueno, in the runoff.  The partisan vote in the primary broke down to only 60-40, so with a Trump candidacy inflating Democratic numbers I wish that Madueno had made the runoff here.
  • In our own AD-55, Gregg Fritchle ended up with 35.9% — that’s as opposed to 26.5% in similarly competitive 2014 and 30.9% in similarly Presidential year 2012 — as the only Democrat running.  (Gregg: you were right –but I had thought that La Habra’s formidable Tim Shaw was going to run, which would have changed things.)  His Republican competitor will be Philip Chen (who got 21.8%) rather than Mike Spence (who got 20.7%.)  Fritchle increased his total from the primary to the general election between 9.5% and 10.0% of the vote in both 2012 and 2014, making his vote total this November a decent test of whether this primary was just unusually good for Democrats or whether November will be just as good plus the normal bump.  Republicans who think they could beat Chen in 2018 (that’s you, Mike Spence) would be smart to backstab him here and let Fritchle win, then defeat him in 2018, rather than letting Chen start 12 uninterrupted years in the Assembly.  Or at least that’s my pitch.
  • Final “Close Contest”: AD-68.  Sole Democrat on the ballot Sean Panahi got 33.0% of the primary vote; five Republicans got a bit over 61%.  Among them, Steven Choi got 19.8% of the vote to Harry Sidhu‘s 19.7% — a difference of 154 votes — making it the closest legislative district contest in the state where the result really mattered (as opposed to one for a second-place sacrificial lamb.)  No word yet on whether Disney Sidhu will fund a recount.  (It’s probably easier for Disney to just buy Choi himself.)  Choi was fundraising off of the prospect of a recount, you may recall.  I wonder who (if anyone) he hired as his legal firepower here — and what will happen to that money if there’s no recount?

And, finally, one last big gulp of local election numbers.  In AD-73,  write-in candidate Mesbah Islam got 278 votes (that is, 277 more than necessary), 0.4% of the total, against Bill Brough, who got 74,568.  (Brough was far and away the county’s top vote-getter among Assembly candidates; Travis Allen, Karina Onofre, Sharon Quirk Silva, and Matt Harper round out the top 5.  Where’s incumbent Assemblyman Tom Daly on that list, given his token Republican opposition, you ask?  Well, you know.)

What about the rest of the frozen north?  In CA-39  Brett Murdock got 39.5% of the vote against Ed Royce.  Jay Chen improved his performance by about 10 points in 2012, presuming that he’d have gotten 2/3 of the votes to the third candidate, putting Murdock in line to be competitive.  Royce’s actual raw vote margin over Chen in the 2012 primary was 34,500 votes, which is almost the exact margin as he has received against Murdock this time.  That margin expanded to about 39,000 votes in November, when about 252,000 rather than 94,000 voters cast ballots.  And that was with Royce spending $3 million-plus against him.  Democrats may not want to spend that much money on Murdock alone — but his is not the only race up there?  There’s Fritchle, there’s Sharon Quirk-Silva, who did awfully well in AD-65 — and then there’s SD-29.  In that district, Democrats Josh Newman and Sukhee Kang combined for 93,520 votes.  Republican Ling-Ling Chang received 73,514 — 20,006 fewer votes.  Hmmm….  In 2012, incumbent Bob Huff had a 30,500 raw votes against Greg Diamond (viz., moi) in the primary, but only 29,500 in the general election, in which the total vote increased from about 107,000 to about 292,000.

If Democrats ran a coordinated campaign, concentrating their resources in AD-55 and AD-65 (excluding Buena Park and down to the southwestern Anaheim and Stanton borders), they would cover FOUR WINNABLE DISTRICTS — including CA-39 (north of Anaheim) and SD-29 — for pretty much the same money.  FOUR of the only competitive and winnable districts in the state: Murdock, Newman, Fritchle, and Quirk-Silva, up against Royce, Chang, Chen, and Kim.  Overlapping districts.  YOU WOULD THINK THAT THEY WOULD BE THAT SMART, RIGHT?  (*Sigh*.)

Top-vote-getter countywide?  Soon-to-be-Honorable Mike Murray, who got 375,773 votes against OC’s protest vote Thomas Martin for the Office 49 Superior Court seat.  Schaudenfreude moment?  Todd Spitzer got 100,467 votes — a perfect 100.0% — running uncontested for his 3rd District Supes seat.  Even a decent opposing write-in campaign by someone supported by Tony Rackauckas or Susan Kang could have held Spitzer under the symbolic six-figure mark that will feature in Spitzer’s campaign literature two years from now.  (“DA” stands for more than just “District Attorney,” Racky, and you’re both.)


About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-retired due to disability, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally runs for office against bad people who would otherwise go unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Corrupt party hacks hate him. He's OK with that too. He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)