Republican Diane Harkey will advance to November’s general election in the 49th Congressional District race after getting at least 26,605 votes in the primary election.

The number two spot in November still is undecided, but it will be one of two Democratic candidates: Mike Levin, who had 18,056 votes and Sara Jacobs, who had 16,057.

OC Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley said, in various news reports, roughly 40,000 mail-in ballots were received Tuesday and it’s unclear how many still need to be counted.

All precincts in Orange County’s portion of the 48th Congressional District are counted as of early Wednesday morning, while 87 percent of San Diego county’s precincts were reported.

Voters in the 49th had to choose from 16 names on their ballots — eight Republicans, four Democrats, one Libertarian, one Peace and Freedom and one no political party preference — after incumbent Darrell Issa (R-Vista) said in January he won’t seek reelection.

According to the latest results released by the Orange County and San Diego Registrars of Voters:

  • Harkey: 26,605
  • Levin: 18,056
  • Jacobs: 16,057
  • Democrat Doug Applegate: 13,757
  • Republican Kristin Gaspar: 9,252
  • Republican Rocky Chavez: 8,108
  • Democrat Paul Kerr: 5,007
  • Republican Brian Maryott: 3,172

Issa was narrowly re-elected in 2016 by 1,621 votes — a less than one percent margin — over Applegate, a retired U.S. Marine Corps. colonel. In the 2016 presidential race, the 49th Congressional District also voted for Hillary Clinton by seven percentage points. Orange County Republican voters were a critical part of Issa’s victory.

The district touches the most southern cities in the Orange County, including San Juan Capistrano, Dana Point and San Clemente. The majority of the 49th stretches down the west side of San Diego county, ending before La Jolla. It also includes the U.S. Marine Corps’ Camp Pendleton.

Over 380,000 registered voters live within the district and nearly 95,000 are Orange County residents. District wide, Republicans still hold the edge at 36 percent of voters, with Democrats trailing at 31 percent. No party preference voters stand at 26 percent.

The gap between the Republicans and Democrats is small in San Diego’s 285,000 registered voters. Republicans are a majority, but by less than 3,000 voters — or 33 percent, a little over one percentage point over Democrats. No party preference voters make up 27 percent of San Diego voters in the 49th district.

Republicans lead among Orange County’s nearly 95,000 registered voters in the district, with 46 percent of voters, while the Democrats trail at 25 percent. The no preference voters are 23 percent.  

Like the other districts, Republican candidates benefitted from name recognition because they’re all elected officeholders — Harkey is chairwoman of the state Board of Equalization and Maryott is Dana Point’s mayor pro tem.

Chavez, an assemblyman, is also a retired Marine Corps. colonel and, like Applegate, cited his service credentials during his campaign.

Gaspar, a San Diego County supervisor, gained media attention when she spearheaded efforts to have San Diego County join the Trump administration’s lawsuit against California over state Senate Bill 54, the state sanctuary laws.

Since Applegate ran and narrowly lost in 2016, he’s got some name recognition in the district. The other three Democrats had virtually no name recognition in the district before they started their campaigns. Kerr and Jacobs were able to build war chests worth millions, mostly through self-funding.

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