Daucher Takes Slight Lead in O.C. State Senate Race
GOP candidate takes a 138-vote advantage.
With the fight over an Orange County state Senate seat far
from decided, Republican Lynn Daucher widened her lead over
Democrat Lou Correa to 138 votes Wednesday as election
officials continued counting ballots in one of the most
expensive legislative races in the state.
The initial count early Wednesday morning showed Daucher,
an assemblywoman from Brea, 13 votes ahead of Correa, a
former assemblyman now serving on the county Board of
Supervisors. But as absentee and provisional ballots were
counted, her lead grew to 50.1% to 49.9%. Nearly 1,000
additional ballots were counted Wednesday.
Both sides appeared to be girding for a protracted fight,
and it remained unclear when the count would be completed,
or if the loser would demand a recount. Brett Rowley, a
spokesman for the county registrar, said 160,000 absentee
ballots remained uncounted countywide, as well as an
additional 21,000 ballots given to people on a provisional
basis until their voter status can be verified.
Both candidates offered cautious comments about the race.
"I'm happy with the position I'm in, but I'll wait till the
end," Daucher said.
Correa said: "You have to be respectful to each and every
voter, so until every vote is counted, you can't assume an
election is one way or another."
Highlighting the stakes in the central Orange County race,
the state Democratic and Republican parties sent their top
lawyers to oversee the count. The attorneys and campaign
workers from both sides spent much of Wednesday hunched
over computer screens in the county registrar's Santa Ana
warehouse monitoring signature verification on absentee
ballots and any unusual markings on ballots the computers
Campaign workers from both sides were required to wear tags
identifying them as monitors; the Daucher campaign tags
were gold; the Correa tags were white.
In one instance, officials ruled that a vote could be
tallied for Daucher even though the voter wrote the
Republican's name on the ballot rather than checking the
box next to her name. In another instance, Orange County
Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley ruled that a vote could be
tallied for Correa even though the voter initially checked
Daucher's box but then covered it with white-out.
A wild card in the race is the impact of a last-minute
Republican write-in candidate backed by Democrats. Rowley
said the vote tally for Santa Ana businessman Otto Bade
would not be known until all ballots were counted.
An independent expenditure committee that campaigned on
behalf of Correa spent more than $90,000 on mailers and
phone banks for Bade. Correa said he had no involvement in
Bade's campaign. By law, independent expenditure committees
cannot coordinate with candidates they support.
The 34th state Senate District, which covers parts of Santa
Ana, Anaheim and Garden Grove, has been a Democratic
beachhead in Republican-dominated Orange County for a
decade, since the election of Joe Dunn to the seat in 1998
over incumbent Republican Rob Hurtt. Dunn, who could not
run again because of term limits, lost in the Democratic
primary for controller. But Democrats' registration
advantage in the area has waned, and the GOP briefly gained
an edge earlier this year after an aggressive registration
drive. As of last month, Democrats had regained an
advantage of less than 3%.
Democrats hold 25 of the 40 seats in the state Senate, and
the loss of one caucus member will not affect the outcome
of most votes. But if it changes hands, it could make it
more difficult for Democrats to gather the 27 votes needed
to pass spending bills, as well as give Republicans
bragging rights for having picked up a Democrat-held
The two sides, and independent expenditure committees
backing the candidates, raised more than $6.6 million
combined on the race, according to filings earlier this
Meanwhile, Correa supporters complained that a polling
place in Democratic Santa Ana was understaffed, requiring
voters to wait in line for as long as two hours to cast
their ballots. Rowley acknowledged some faced a long wait
but said the office hadn't received complaints.
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