The election outcome of the 13th Congressional district race between Democrat Adam Gray and Republican John Duarte is still up in the air over a week later.
It’s just one of the hotly contested races that could determine which party controls the House of Representatives.
Duarte had held onto a razor-thin lead until this week when the California Secretary of State’s count showed Gray ahead by 761 votes. But it’s not over with more votes that need to be counted. This edition went to press before the count was to be updated Tuesday evening by local elections offices within the 13th CD.
The newly formed 13th CD includes western Stanislaus County, much of Merced County, and parts of Madera, Tulare and Fresno counties.
Still being counted are ballots which were dropped in the mail or dropped off at Vote Centers and Official Drop boxes by Election Day. State law requires clerks to count ballots received in the mail up to seven days after the election. In addition, the Stanislaus County elections staff had to examine 84 provisional ballots, 425 conditional and more than 819 miscellaneous ballots. Signatures on the mail ballots must be checked to verify the voter’s identity before they can be counted.
The ballots remaining to be processed could change the official vote tallies and determine who wins.
In the days following the election, Duarte continued to lead in the 13th Congressional District – which represents Ceres – with 267 votes. Last week, Duarte, who runs Duarte Nursery in Hughson, led Gray by just 84 votes. Duarte had received 38,252 votes (50.2 percent) over Gray’s 37,985 votes (49.8 percent).
But on Wednesday, the state website showed Gray ahead with 56,521 votes to Duarte’s 55,921 votes – a difference of 600.
Gray is a member of the state Assembly from Merced County.
Political watcher Josh Whitfield said that Duarte’s hopes, while dimming, are pinned to the next batch of vote counts released by Stanislaus County.
“The late ballot count trends have been against Duarte almost the whole way,” said Whitfield. “Tulare just doesn’t have enough ballots left to get John over the line by itself, Merced consistently trending away from Duarte, so John will need Stanislaus to turn it around.”
He expected vote updates on Tuesday and Thursday “will tell the story.”
“If late count trends back to John like we are seeing in some do these SoCal races (41 & 45 & 47) for instance, he still has a shot. But if these next two drops from Stanislaus are by any margin better for Gray, I think Duarte is cooked.”
Other CD races
There is no doubt as to who will represent the 5th Congressional District which encompasses Hughson, Denair, most of Modesto, Oakdale, Riverbank, Waterford and La Grange. Congressman Tom McClintock amassed 133,326 votes (61 percent) over Manteca Democrat and perennial candidate Michael Barkley, who had 85,225 votes (39 percent).
Redistricting forced Congressman Josh Harder — who has been representing Ceres in the 10th Congressional District – to run in the 9th CD, which encompasses part of the northern area of Stanislaus County with Stockton. Harder held onto a sizable lead over Republican Tom Patti as of Thursday. The Democrat lawmaker was ahead with 44,513 votes (56.3 percent), over Patti’s 34,595 votes (43.7 percent).
Ceres’ next representative in the state Assembly appears to be Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Sgt. Juan Alanis who was far ahead of Democrat Jessica Self as of Monday. The California Secretary of State’s website had Alanis up in the 22nd Assembly District with 37,731 votes (57.7 percent) to criminal defense attorney Self who collected 27,639 votes (42.3 percent).
Alvardo-Gil on top
In the 4th state Senate race, Marie Alvardo-Gil held an electoral edge over fellow Democrat rival Tim Robertson. The two Democrats went to the general election after edging out a slate of Republican candidates in June that included George Radanovich, Jeff McKay, Steve Bailey, Jack Griffith, Jolene Daly and Michael Gordon.
As of Tuesday morning, Alvarado-Gil had 100,987 votes (52.2 percent) over labor backed Robertson at 92,658 votes (47.8 percent).
Ceres Unified School District Board Trustee Valli Wigt appears to have held onto her Area 3 seat. The longtime board member was challenged by Mariah Jaquez who is an administrative assistant and student. Wigt had 338 votes (55.59 percent) to Jaquez’s 270 votes (44.41 percent) in the latest tally.
“I am proud of our district and all that has been accomplished during the time I have served,” said Wigt, who retired after 34 years of teaching K-6 students in the Ceres Unified School District and Oakdale Union Elementary School District.
Wigt will return to the School Board with some new faces. Trucking business owner David McConnell, 62, faced no challenge to take the Trustee Area 6 seat now occupied by the retiring Betty Davis. Also new is real estate agent Cynthia Ruiz who was the lone candidate for the Trustee Area 2 seat occupied by Mike Welsh, who is moving to Nevada.
Incumbent CUSD board trustee Lourdes Perez is also headed back to the board for another four-year term since she was also unopposed in her re-election bid for Trustee Area 5.
Yonan wins TID race
David Yonan delivered a crushing defeat of Wayne Zipser in the race for the Division 2 seat on the Turlock Irrigation District Board. Yonan, who ran an aggressive campaign and who was endorsed by outgoing incumbent Charlie Fernandes, received 3,020 votes as of Wednesday to claim 70.36 percent of the total votes cast. Zipser, who retired this year as the executive director of the Stanislaus County Farm Bureau, came in a distant second place with 1,272 votes, or 29.64 percent.
Both candidates live in Ceres.
Other local races
In Hughson, Mayor George Carr was unopposed for a four-year term. He had 1,084 votes while 231 who voted in Hughson decided not to vote, probably for the lack of opposition.
Randy Crooker led the vote tally for one of two seats on the Hughson City Council with 663 votes (33.52 percent), followed by Julie Ann Strain with 452 votes (22.85 percent). Appearing to lose their council bids are Heather Sigala with 298 votes (15.07 percent), Alan McFadon with 288 votes (14.56 percent) and Tyrel Voss with 277 votes (14 percent).
Crooker and Strain will be replacing Michael Buck and Harold Hill on the council.
As everyone predicted, Democrats won every top state race, including Gov. Gavin Newsom who handily defeated Republican State Senator Brian Dahle. As of Wednesday, Newsom had 3,588,253 votes (57.6 percent) as of Monday. Dahle collected 2,637,887 votes, or 42.4 percent.
Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis won re-election as did Secretary of State Shirley Weber, state Controller Malia M. Cohen, state Treasurer Fiona Ma, Attorney General Rob Bonta, Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara and Supt. of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond.
California voters also decided to make abortion “rights” part of the state Constitution by passing Prop. 1.
They turned down both 26 and 27 regarding sports wagering.
Prop. 28, the Public School Arts and Music Education Funding act passed.
Prop. 29, which would have added further regulations on kidney dialysis centers, failed.
Voters also did not support Prop. 30, which would have taxed millionaires to fund wildfire programs and subsidize electric vehicles.
Prop. 31, which regulates flavored tobacco products purchased by adults, passed.
Donna Linder, Stanislaus County’s Clerk Recorder & Registrar of Voters (ROV) said her office is still processing ballots dropped off at Vote Centers and official drop boxes.
Reason for delays
The process takes days as the signature on each envelope must be checked against the signature on the original affidavit of registration. After verification, each of the mail ballot envelopes must be sorted into one of the 199 precincts. Those envelopes must be opened, and ballots unfolded and fed through scanning equipment to tabulate results.
State Elections Code §3019 requires elections offices to allow time after an election for voters who forgot to sign their ballot envelope, or if the signature is being questioned. Linder’s office must then contact these voters and advise them of the challenge to their ballot. Those voters must come into the office to sign an “Unsigned Ballot Envelope Statement” or a “Signature Verification Statement.” Voters have up to two days prior to the day the election is certified to return their signed statements.
California law requires certification of this election to be on or before Thursday, Dec. 8, which is 30 days following Election Day.
A total of 282,393 voters in Stanislaus County were eligible to vote in the Nov. 8 election.