It’s still too close to call races in Orange County’s 39th and 45th congressional districts, and with an estimated 40 percent of votes still left to count, it could be days or weeks before the final result of the contested races are known.
An updated vote count posted 5 p.m. Wednesday showed Republican Rep. Mimi Walters (R-Laguna Niguel) with a 3.2 point lead over her Democratic challenger, consumer protection attorney Katie Porter, in the race for the 45th congressional district. Walters’ lead has steadily narrowed with each update since polls closed, and now 6,074 votes separate the two candidates.
In the North Orange County-based 39th congressional district, Republican and former state Assemblywoman Young Kim led by 2.6 percent over Democrat and philanthropist Gil Cisneros, a difference of 3,879 votes.
There are still an estimated 418,600 uncounted ballots left countywide, a number which could increase as vote-by-mail ballots postmarked on election day make their way to the Registrar of Voters’ office in Santa Ana. Those ballots – which include vote-by-mail, provisional and paper ballots – will take weeks to finish counting.
On Wednesday, campaigns on both sides avoided calling the races.
“While the results are not yet official, I am confident that we will emerge victorious,” Walters’ campaign said in a statement posted on social media.
A spokesman for Porter also did not return a request for comment and her campaign has yet to publicly comment on the results.
Kim’s campaign manager Patrick Mocete also did not return a call for comment. But Kim posted on her Facebook page Wednesday afternoon noting that ballots are still being counted and thanking her volunteers and supporters.
“This was a tough race, but I am proud of the campaign that we ran. To my family, volunteers, and prayer warriors, I can’t thank you enough,” Kim wrote. “I couldn’t have done this without you.”
Cisneros, in a news release, said the race is too close to call.
“We will let this process play out and will continue to closely monitor the results as they come in during the days ahead,” Cisneros said.
The campaign claimed to have heard reports of “questionable tactics at polling places “in La Habra, a heavily Latino community,” with a polling station at La Habra Church of Christ allegedly denying entry to poll observers and using security personnel to check-in voters, according to the news release.
“It’s clear that actors in the 39th did their bests to potentially suppress the vote,” the news release states, without naming a culprit.
Kim and Cisneros were vying to replace retiring Rep. Ed Royce (R-Fullerton), Kim’s boss for the two decades she spent working as an Asian community liaison for the district. The 39th district is the most diverse of the four OC races, with two-thirds of the population Asian or Latino.
The 56-year-old Walters was first elected to the House in 2014 and was elected to a second term in 2016. She is a former state senator and assemblywoman, and started her political career after being appointed to the Laguna Niguel City Council.
Porter, 44, is a consumer protection attorney and law professor at the University of California, Irvine.
Voter registration in the 45th district favors Republicans, who have a nearly six-point advantage over Democrats.
Contact Thy Vo at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @thyanhvo.