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Tom McClintock makes a habit of running in tight races

November 11, 2008 | 10:41 am

He might become known as Landslide Tom.

As in Tom McClintock. Six years ago, McClintock lost a nail-biter to Steve Westly in a run for California State controller.

Now, a week after polls closed, Republican McClintock is slightly ahead of Democrat Charlie Brown in California's last undecided congressional race.Tom_mcclintock

As of this morning, McClintock led by 1,092 votes out of 318,384 votes tallied in the 4th Congressional District, a seat that stretches from east of Sacramento to the borders of Nevada and Oregon.

Backers of McClintock and Brown say their candidates will win. According to Kate Folmar, spokeswoman for Secretary of State Debra Bowen, a recount is almost a certainty, suggesting that the victor won't be known until next month.

As many as 42,759 votes remain to be counted.

The seat, long a Republican stronghold, is held by John T. Doolittle, who is stepping down amid federal investigations stemming from the Jack Abramoff scandals. As it is, Democrats hold 34 of California's 53 congressional seats.

McClintock is a conservative California state senator who has held office for two decades. He lives in suburban Sacramento, but his senate district is 400 miles to the south, covering parts of Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.

The fight to succeed him also is tight. Democrat Hannah-Beth Jackson leads McClintock's former aide, Tony Strickland, by 1,203 votes out of 329,000 votes cast.

Meanwhile, up in Alaska, where 210,000 ballots have been counted, the race between Ted Stevens and Mark Begich remains undecided. On Wednesday, an additional 52,000 votes are expected to be tallied.

-- Dan Morain

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Photo: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press