The latest round of election night results showed Republican incumbent Orange County Supervisor Andrew Do continued to lead over his Democratic challenger and Westminster Councilman Sergio Contreras on Tuesday.
As of 10:38 p.m., Do saw his lead over Contreras widen.
This first round of results reflects all early votes received by election officials up until Monday evening. It does not include ballots cast in person on Election Day or mail-in ballots that arrived after Monday evening.
Election Day ballots are scheduled to be reported out in updates from county election officials tonight, starting at 9 p.m. In California, mail-in ballots can arrive in the days after the election and still count as long as they’re postmarked by Election Day.
One of the hottest local election battles of 2020, the 1st District supervisor’s race pitted the two candidates against each other for a seat on the county’s powerful Board of Supervisors.
County supervisors have enormous influence over public health policy, such as during the coronavirus pandemic, and decide how to prioritize $7 billion in annual spending between law enforcement, homelessness, mental health, social services and health care.
The outcome decides whether Republicans keep their 4-to-1 supermajority on the Board of Supervisors, or Democrats pick up a seat, which would craft a 3-to-2 Republican majority. That could change the power dynamics on key issues, with some types of actions requiring yes votes from four of the five supervisors.
The 1st District seat encompasses Santa Ana, Garden Grove, Westminster, the northern part of Fountain Valley, and unincorporated Midway City.
Do faced a highly competitive re-election in a seat where Democrats now hold a 17 percentage-point advantage in voter registration, an even wider margin than the 14% when Do narrowly won re-election in 2016 by 0.4% of the vote.
Do’s biggest financial backer, by far, was the union representing OC sheriff’s deputies, which spent more than $855,000 promoting him this year – the most any group or individual has spent supporting any candidate for the 1st District seat in years.
Do voted last year for $151 million in raises for deputies, and moved $24 million from departments like the Health Care Agency to pay for sheriff cost overruns.
Contreras, a longtime Westminster councilman, was backed largely by trade unions, the Orange County Labor Federation and individual donors, with most of his support coming in contributions of $2,100 or less.
Do ran on a campaign that he led the county toward safely reopening businesses during the coronavirus pandemic, while Contreras said Do and the other supervisors failed in responding to the crisis by undermining public health experts.
Homelessness was another major campaign issue. Do said he’s been solving homelessness and wants to continue doing so, while Contreras said the county has failed to move fast enough to create affordable housing to get people off the streets.
During the campaign, Do repeatedly declined to comment on longstanding allegations he’s been illegally living outside the 1st District, in a larger home he and his wife own in North Tustin.
Contreras has also been accused of wrongdoing that he’s denied. In 2016, the then-police chief of Westminster filed a legal claim leveling a host of corruption claims against top city officials, including allegations Contreras pushed city staff to fix a water leak on a private residential property to benefit a friend.
The city paid $500,000 to the former chief, Kevin Baker, to settle the claim. Contreras called allegations about him “absurd half-truths” and “a ransom note,” by someone “looking for a payday.”
In the heavily Democrat-leaning district, both Do and Contreras’ campaigns sought to link their opponent with President Donald Trump. Do’s campaign claimed Contreras appointed a “dangerous far right Trump Republican to City Council,” while Contreras’ campaign alleged “Trump Republican Andrew Do is failing Orange County.”
Nick Gerda covers county government for Voice of OC. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.