OC Supervisor Todd Spitzer, up by 5.8 percentage points in the latest ballot count at 5 p.m. Wednesday, declared victory over incumbent DA Tony Rackauckas, with at least 40 percent of ballots left to count.
“Undoing a 20-year incumbent was not easy, but we achieved success through our strong and persistent campaign,” Spitzer said in a news release ahead of the 5 p.m. update, adding he will assemble a “transition team” in the coming days, “convene a group of experts to be briefed from all groups of issues,” and “will meet with all the oversight groups to get up to speed about their concerns.”
“The best cure of darkness and corruption is sunlight. I pledge to bring an era of transparency to the DA’s office.”
There was no word Wednesday of a concession by Rackauckas, and the count could change as elections officials continue to go through ballots. Rackauckas’ campaign declined to comment on Spitzer’s news release.
In other county-level races, Republican Tim Shaw maintained a 1.6 percentage point lead over Democrat Doug Chaffee for the north Orange County seat on the county Board of Supervisors, as of the 5 p.m. Wednesday update.
In the race for county sheriff-coroner, Democrat Duke Nugyen conceded Wednesday afternoon to Republican Undersheriff Don Barnes. As of the 5 p.m. Wednesday update, Barnes was ahead by 6 points, 53 percent to 47 percent.
It likely will take days if not weeks before the outcome of several close local races are known.
As of the final election night update, around 2 a.m. Wednesday, county elections officials reported the results of 650,671 ballots.
As of Wednesday morning, another estimated 418,000 Orange County ballots hadn’t yet been counted, and tens of thousands of additional ballots were estimated to still be traveling through the mail, according to county Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley.
Shaw, in a phone interview Wednesday evening, said he was “cautiously optimistic” and the count so far is “a great relief.”
“Obviously I wish it was a few percentage points higher and I could kind of be assured of the outcome and [start] working on next steps. But, you know I’ll just have to…wait it out a little and see how the updates go,” Shaw said.
Shaw said he’s received lots of text messages and phone calls from friends and people from his church congratulating him, because they think he won the race due to the county results website showing all precincts reported. But Shaw noted it’s not over yet.
“Well you know guys, there’s quite a bit of votes out there,” Shaw, mayor of La Habra, said with a laugh. “We’re not declaring victory yet.”
Chaffee, mayor of Fullerton, said he’s still holding out hope for winning.
“I am very appreciative of all the people that have been working with me. And we’re all so hopeful of a win,” Chaffee said in a phone interview Wednesday afternoon.
“There are a lot of ballots to be counted,” he said, noting ballots mailed on Election Day can arrive at the county elections office as late as Friday and still be counted.
“[I’m] just gonna hang in there and see what happens,” Chaffee said.
County election officials plan to continue posting a single count update each day, at 5 p.m., including over the weekend.
If Spitzer’s lead holds and he wins the DA race, a special election would be held early next year for his 3rd District supervisor seat. At least three candidates so far have declared plans to run for it: Republican Anaheim Councilwoman Kris Murray; Democrat Andy Thorburn, a businessman who ran in this year’s primary for the 39th Congressional District; and Democrat Beth Krom, a former mayor and a City Council member in Irvine.
Nick Gerda covers county government and Santa Ana for Voice of OC. You can contact him at [email protected].