Republican Tim Shaw had a 1.8 percentage point lead over Democrat Doug Chaffee for the north Orange County seat on the county Board of Supervisors, as of the update at 2 a.m. Wednesday.
All of the Election Day votes on electronic voting machines in Santa Ana have been counted, though there remain an unknown number of mail-in and provisional ballots left to count.
With 87,404 ballots counted and reported so far, Shaw, the mayor of La Habra, was leading with 50.9 percent, to Chaffee, the mayor of Fullerton, with 49.1 percent.
Shaw’s lead over Chaffee widened since the initial count, reported at 8:05 p.m., from 1 percent to 1.8 percent.
The full set of ballots in the race likely will not be counted until Friday, the last day mail-in ballots can arrive at the county elections office and still be counted.
Editor’s Note: This article was updated with new counts on election night. The final update to the article was at 2:07 a.m. See an archive below of each Voice of OC update.
In the June primary, 42 percent of all ballots in Orange County were not yet counted at of the end of election night. Many mail-in ballots did not arrive at the county elections office until the Friday after Election Day.
The outcome decides whether Republicans look to continue their five seats on the five-member county board. Democrats are aiming to gain what would be their first full supervisor term in three decades.
Shaw, the mayor of La Habra, was supported by realtor associations, major business groups, and and most of the current county supervisors. Chaffee, the mayor of neighboring Fullerton, was supported by the largest union representing county employees, as well as $675,000 he’s put toward his campaign.
The north county 4th District includes most of Anaheim and Buena Park, as well as the cities of Fullerton, Brea, La Habra, Placentia, and unincorporated areas.
Among the biggest issues in the campaign was the county’s growing homelessness and how to deal with it, as well as tens of millions of dollars in stockpiled mental health money.
Democrats had a 9.5 percentage-point lead in voter registration within the 4th District, with 40 percent of voters registered as Democrats versus 31 percent Republican and 25 percent with no party preference.
But the difference was expected to be much closer among actual voters in the election, because Democrats historically turn out in smaller share than Republicans, especially in non-presidential election years like 2018.
The winner of the 4th District race will replace Supervisor Shawn Nelson, who could not run again because of term limits.
Since 1987, Democrats have occupied a single seat on the five-member board for just half of a four-year term, from 2005 to 2006. Then-Supervisor Lou Correa vacated the seat after he was elected to the state Senate, and now is a congressman.
When Correa left his supervisor seat, it went back to Republican hands with the election of Janet Nguyen, who served as supervisor for eight years and is now a state senator.
ELECTION COUNT UPDATES:
[8:15 p.m. Election Day, Nov. 6] The first reported election count showed Shaw with a 1-percent lead over Chaffee. The count was reported at 8:05 p.m.
[11:52 p.m. Election Day, Nov. 6] Latest count showed Shaw’s lead widened from 1 percent to 1.8 percentage points since the initial count. The count was reported at 11:30 p.m.
[2:07 a.m. election night, Nov. 7] The update election officials released at 2 a.m. had Shaw still in the lead, by 1.8 percentage points.
Nick Gerda covers county government and Santa Ana for Voice of OC. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.