Republican Assemblyman Chris Norby faced potential defeat Tuesday in possibly the biggest Orange County upset of the election.
With all precincts reporting in the 65th Assembly District, but some absentee ballots still outstanding, Norby trailed Fullerton Mayor Sharon Quirk-Silva, a Democrat, by just one percentage point or 1,004 votes.
The two battled fiercely for months, with masses of campaign mailers in which, among other things, Quirk-Silva argued Norby wasn’t supportive of women’s issues and Norby fired back with a mailer, signed by his wife Martha, that accused Quirk-Silva of “making false and nasty claims against my marriage and my family …”
The contest will be decided in the next few days when remaining absentee ballots are counted that were turned in at the polls and others that arrived by mail at the Registrar of Voters’ office Tuesday.
State legislative and U.S. House of Representative district boundaries were redrawn last year by an independent panel. The new lines gave the north county district of 233,000 voters roughly equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats—about 84,000 each—which in Orange County normally would mean the seat is safely Republican.
But the district also includes nearly 55,000 voters who belong to no political party, which may have tipped the vote in favor of Quirk-Silva.
Norby began his political career in 1984 when he was elected to the Fullerton city council. In 2002, he defeated former Orange County Supervisor Cynthia Coad and won a seat on the county Board of Supervisors.
In 2009, former Republican Assemblyman Michael Duvall of Yorba Linda resigned from the Legislature after he bragged about his sexual exploits with a lobbyist, not realizing a microphone was turned on during a lull in a committee hearing.
Norby was elected to replace Duvall in November 2009.
Orange County Registrar of Voters Neal Kelly said in a telephone interview it shouldn’t take too long to count the remaining absentee ballots. He said all of those received before Tuesday already have been counted. An additional 25,000 arrived in the mail Tuesday and an unknown number were dropped off at polling places.
“For the first time, we were completely caught up with all of our vote-by-mail ballots this morning,” he said Tuesday night. “There’s not a lot left to count.”