June 9, 2012 - Votes in the bag mean Fresno Co. races are not
Paper: Fresno Bee, The (CA)
Title: Votes in the bag mean Fresno Co. races are not
Date: June 9, 2012
Author: Bee staff
The Fresno County Elections Office released updated vote-count totals Friday, and while there are small percentage changes in some of the contested races, there were no lead changes or real surprises.
What was surprising, however, was the number of ballots still left to be counted.
After Tuesday's election, Clerk Brandi Orth said there were around 30,000 ballots left to be counted -- 25,000 mail-in and 5,500 provisional.
Officials have counted around 15,000 mail-in ballots since the election, which should have cut the total counted in half. Instead, Orth said, the number left to be counted remains at 25,000.
The reason? A lot of ballots were placed into supply bags and were not part of the office's original estimate, which now looks like it should have been more than 40,000.
As for the races, front-runners Pat DiCicco and Steve Brandau both saw their leads diminish in the city of Fresno's District 2 race. Both are currently on track to advance to the November general election.
But Randy Reed, who is in third place, gained on the top two. He was 257 votes behind Brandau for the second spot after the initial count, but is now 216 votes back. Still, Reed would need to win a high number of the remaining absentee and provisional ballots to catch Brandau.
In the District 2 race for the Fresno County Board of Supervisors, Andreas Borgeas slipped a bit as well, but is still above 51% of the vote. Borgeas needs to stay above 50% to avoid a November runoff with second-place finisher Larry Fortune.
And in the 23rd Assembly District race, Clovis Council Member Bob Whalen put some extra distance between himself and third-place finisher Richard Rojas.
The top two in the 23rd District advance to a November showdown.
Former Fresno Mayor Jim Patterson finished first, with Whalen second and Rojas third.
-- John Ellis
Day-after-election analysis is premature
The dust hadn't yet settled on Tuesday's election, and already The Rothenberg Political Report -- a nonpartisan newsletter covering gubernatorial and federal campaigns -- was offering up analysis and changing its calls on the state's congressional races.
For instance, the Valley's new 16th Congressional District has been moved from "safe Democrat" to "Democrat favored." Translation: Republicans now may have a chance, where they didn't before.
In an accompanying 16th District analysis, the Rothenberg Political Report notes that incumbent Fresno Democrat Jim Costa "finished first on Tuesday, but with just 42% of the vote."
It goes on to note that Fresno Republican Brian Whelan finished second with 26% of the vote, but when combined with the votes of fellow GOP candidates Mark Garcia and Johnny Tacherra, the total "creeps to nearly" 50%.
Based on that, Rothenberg changed its call on the race.
The analysis, however, is suspect.
In Fresno County, for instance, 25,000 absentee and 5,000 provisional ballots still had to be counted. It's unknown how many of those will be in the 16th District, but the reality is uncounted ballots make any analysis questionable.
The 16th District covers parts of Fresno and Madera counties, and all of Merced County. Fresno is Costa's stronghold, and even though Whelan is also from Fresno, so far Costa is trouncing him here.
Rothenberg also ignored a second Democrat in the race, Loraine Goodwin, a Madera doctor. She's pulling around 10% of the vote. If Rothenberg is adding the Republican votes together, shouldn't the Democratic ones be as well?
If that is done, Costa's total pushes to around 51%.
The Rothenberg analysis may yet prove to be spot-on. And Costa may not waltz into the seat -- or he could ultimately lose it. But offering analysis or modifying predictions at this stage makes for a flawed analysis.
-- John Ellis
The Political Notebook is a compilation of stories found on The Bee's Political Notebook Blog. To comment or read more, go to www.fresnobeehive.com/news/political_notebook.
Caption: Jim Costa
Memo: POLITICAL NOTEBOOK
Section: MAIN NEWS
Record Number: FRS_0416370222
Copyright (c) 2012 The Fresno Bee