The races aren’t quite over yet in a handful of California primary contests that were so close their outcomes may hinge on the ballots left uncounted on election night Tuesday.
As county elections officials work through the thousands of remaining ballots, candidates in three congressional races and more than a dozen Assembly contests are waiting to see whether they will be on the ballot for the Nov. 6 general election.
Under the state’s new “top two” primary system, only the first- and second-place finishers in the primary can advance to the fall election.
Officials have less than a month to finish their tallies. Yet to be counted are mailed ballots that arrived by Election Day but were too late to be included in the tallies posted after the polls closed that night and so-called provisional ballots, which require checking for voter eligibility or duplication.
Among the contests too close to call is the 13-candidate race in the inland 8th Congressional District, which includes the San Bernardino County mountains and deserts and Inyo and Mono counties. There, four candidates were bunched near the top: Republican Assemblyman Paul Cook of Yucca Valley, who was in first place; Lake Arrowhead home-builder and anti-illegal-immigration activist Gregg Imus, also a Republican; Barstow Democrat Jackie Conaway; and Phil Liberatore, a Republican tax consultant based in Whittier.
In San Diego County’s 52nd Congressional District, Democrats Lori Saldana, a former assemblywoman, and former San Diego City Councilman Scott Peters are battling for the second spot on the ballot. Peters finished 645 votes ahead of Saldana on election night. The eventual winner will face Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-Carlsbad) in November.
The outcomes also are uncertain in several Los Angeles-area Assembly contests.
Among the most hotly contested was the six-way dustup for the San Fernando Valley’s newly drawn, strongly Democratic 46th Assembly District. There L.A. City Council aide Adrin Nazarian finished first with 27.5% of the election night tally, with charter schools executive Brian Johnson second with 20.3%. Just 83 votes behind Johnson was teacher Jay Stern, followed by attorney Andrew Lachman, who trailed Johnson by 332 votes on election night. All are Democrats but Stern, who is a Republican.
For the Westside’s 50th Assembly District, the second-place finisher, Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom, led another Democrat, community activist Torie Osborn, who was 673 votes behind him, and environmental attorney Brad Torgan, the only Republican on the ballot, who trailed Bloom by 687 votes. Assemblywoman Betsy Butler (D-Marina del Rey) finished first -- 102 votes ahead of Bloom.
And in the eastern Los Angeles County 57th Assembly District, Ian Calderon, son of state Assemblyman Charles Calderon (D-Whittier), finished 231 votes ahead of former Democratic Assemblyman Rudy Bermudez for the second spot on the ballot. Republican Noel James finished first with 43.4% of the vote in the solidly Democratic district.
Los Angeles County elections officials said they plan to start releasing updated tallies on Friday. The next update after that will be on Tuesday. Results can be found on the county registrar’s website, www.lavote.net. Election night results can be found on the Secretary of State’s website, www.sos.ca.gov.
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-- Jean Merl
Photo: Voters cast ballots at an L.A. restaurant during the Tuesday's primary election. Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times