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Liberatore gets recount in congressional district race

July 11, 2012 |  4:00 pm

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Phil Liberatore, the  third-place finisher in a 13-candidate congressional race, has asked for a recount of ballots cast in the June 5 primary, San Bernardino County elections officials confirmed Wednesday.

Liberatore,  a Republican accountant and anti-IRS tax crusader,  finished 240 votes behind Assemblyman Paul Cook (R-Yucca Valley) in the preliminary race for the 8th Congressional District.  The top vote-getter was anti-illegal immigration activist Gregg  Imus, also a Republican.

Under the state’s new, voter-approved elections system, all candidates in  a race for  Congress or  the state Legislature  appear on the same ballot and only the top two finishers, regardless of any political party affiliation, can advance to the general election.

The recount will begin Friday and would take more than a week, said county Registrar of Voters Michael Scarpello.  He said Liberatore has chosen the precincts he wants reexamined first and has the option of deciding at the end of each day whether to proceed.

Liberatore must bear the $6,000-per-day cost but would have the money refunded if the recount changes the election’s outcome.

Most observers believe  Liberatore faces long odds in overcoming the deficit and getting onto the Nov. 6  ballot, especially since the margin separating Cook and Liberatore is greater than 2%.

Cook’s campaign consultant, Joe Justin,  said he has been involved in more than a dozen recounts during his 25 years in  politics and has not seen the outcomes changed in any of them.

He said Liberatore is trying “to buy” a new result because he didn’t like the election’s outcome and added that Cook will remain focused on his campaign message of creating jobs and strengthening the economy.

The Liberatore campaign  could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

The district stretches into parts of two other counties—Inyo and Mono—but most  of the  voters live in San Bernardino County.

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--Jean Merl

Photo: Michael Daniels accepts ballots in Sacramento,  June 5, 2012. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli, Associated Press

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