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Strickland trails by 108 votes

Posted: November 5, 2008 9:59 p.m.
Updated: November 6, 2008 4:59 a.m.
A day after the election, the Senate race between Democrat Hannah-Beth Jackson and Republican Tony Strickland for the 19th District remained heatedly undecided.

The California Secretary of State's office Wednesday confirmed Jackson's slim lead with 50.1 percent of the vote compared to Strickland's 49.9 percent. In terms of ballots cast, the difference was just 108 votes.

Bob Haueter, a volunteer with the Strickland campaign, said the number could very well flip to a 108-vote lead for Strickland.

"It ain't over," he said. Haueter believes there are 300,000 votes that remain to be counted among absentee and provisional ballots.

Chris Wangsatorn, Strickland campaign manager, said he believes at least 100,000 ballots remain to be counted - "probably well over that number."

Jackson supporters were optimistic.

"I think we have a good chance of winning but it's very close," said Parke Skelton, a Jackson campaign consultant who said it could take up to nine days before all votes are counted.

If Jackson is elected, Skelton said it would mean "the people of the 19th District decided to elect an independent with a strong history of working across party boundaries to solve community problems, as opposed to electing a rigid ideologue that has a history of not accomplishing anything for the district."

Representatives and supporters of the Strickland campaign predicted dire consequences for California Republicans if Jackson holds onto her lead.

"If (Tony) lost, Republicans would really have no say at the state level; it's critical," said Lynn Vakay, director of the Republican Headquarters in Valencia.

Meanwhile, Bruce McFarland, a Democrat who challenged George Runner for the 17th Senate District, said he had come to terms with the loss.

McFarland claimed 45.2 percent of the vote in the Senate district, a respectable showing considering that he went up against an incumbent and did little campaigning."I'm riding on the coat-tails of two great contenders: Carole Lutness and Linda Jones," he said, referring to the Democratic candidates in Assembly Districts 38 and 36, respectively. "I'm on the big blue wave."

Runner expressed disappointment in the outcome of the presidential election, adding that the GOP needs to "get our issues together and communicate better the values that we believe in."

"I am honored to once again be representing (District) 17 and the people of SCV and will be looking forward to working with the constituency, city councils, and schools to do what we can for those folks down there in SCV," said Runner, whose district offices are in the Antelope Valley.


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