One California Senate race not to be decided until January
When new legislators take the oath of office Monday, Republican Jim Nielsen will not be among those raising their hands. He decided not to run for reelection to the Assembly with hopes of instead winning a special election to the state Senate this month.
But Nielsen, of the Northern California city of Gerber, fell just 1,662 votes short of the majority vote needed this month to win the 4th Senate District seat in Northern California outright, so he must compete in a runoff election Jan. 8 against Democrat Michael "Mickey" Harrington, a labor council leader from Magalia.
The seat representing the heavily Republican district was vacated when Sen. Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale) decided to run for Congress.
Nielsen received 188,207 votes to second-place finisher Harrington’s 104,572 in a crowded race that featured four other candidates. The runoff was necessary after Republican Assemblyman Dan Logue garnered 11% of the vote to finish third, even though he had dropped out of the race because of health problems.
"While we finished with nearly double the number of votes of the second-place candidate, this outcome is indeed bittersweet," Nielsen said Wednesday in a fund-raising appeal to supporters that noted there are just 40 days before the election so it will be a sprint to the finish.
--Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento
Photo: Assemblyman Jim Nielsen, right, speaks at a press conference last month alongside other officials urging a "no" vote on Proposition 34, which sought to abolish the death penalty in California. Credit: Greg Barnette / The Record Searchlight