By Jim Ellis
March 5, 2020 — Tuesday’s elections in Texas and California were subject to slow counting, but at least in the Lone Star State, the numbers are near final.
More than 780,000 votes have currently been received in California but not yet counted. More votes are coming into county offices. To be valid, voters could have postmarked their mail ballots on Election Day and as long as they are received in the county election offices by close of business on March 6, they will be counted. Therefore, an unknown number will be added to the received but uncounted total.
The large total explains why some of the California congressional races remain uncalled even though the vote spreads among the affected candidates is sometimes quite large.In Texas, US Senate candidate Cristina Tzintzun Ramirez conceded the second Democratic run-off position to state Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas). The two battled for the slot all evening and into yesterday, but the small margin in Sen. West’s favor was definitive enough that Ramirez officially ended her bid. The May 26 statewide run-off election will feature first-place finisher M.J. Hegar, a retired Army helicopter pilot who held veteran Rep. John Carter (R-Georgetown) to a 51-48 percent re-election victory in the 2018 CD-31 campaign that encompasses Williamson and Bell Counties, and now Sen. West. The winner opposes Sen. John Cornyn (R) in November.
The final unofficial Democratic presidential tally finds former vice president Joe Biden scoring 34.5 percent of the vote as compared to 30.0 percent for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). Though Biden and Sanders were the only candidates to break the 15 percent barrier to qualify for at-large delegates, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) both obtained the threshold percentage in certain congressional districts, so they, too, earned several delegate votes; both, however, have ended their campaigns, Sen. Warren just this morning. The final unofficial delegate board finds Biden capturing 111 bound Texas first-ballot delegates, Sen. Sanders 102, Bloomberg 10, and Sen. Warren, five.
Just over 2 million people voted in the Democratic presidential primary. President Trump garnered 94 percent of the Republican vote, translating into more than 1.863 million votes. Just under 2 million voters cast ballots in the GOP primary despite there being no real race for president.
Races now called include Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo) surviving a close primary challenge. He ends with 51.8 percent of the vote against challenger Jessica Cisneros. A lower turnout of 72,788 individuals cast their ballots in this race.
Several candidates won outright in what will be contested congressional seats. In the 7th District, freshman Rep. Lizzie Fletcher (D-Houston) will face mortgage company executive and Iraq War veteran Wesley Hunt (R). Hunt captured 61 percent against three other Republican candidates.
Gina Ortiz Jones, a 2018 congressional nominee, won the Democratic primary in the open 23rd District, scoring a 67 percent win over three opponents. Republicans are in a run-off election to decide who will succeed retiring Rep. Will Hurd (R-San Antonio) as the GOP nominee. Retired Naval officer Tony Gonzales and homebuilder and Air Force veteran Raul Reyes will square-off in the Republican secondary election. Jones is favored to convert this seat for the Democrats.
In the open 24th District, former Irving mayor Beth Van Duyne easily won the Republican nomination to succeed retiring Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-Coppell). Democrats are in a run-off election between 2018 Texas agriculture commissioner nominee Kim Olson and local school board member Candace Valenzuela.
In Dallas County, businesswoman Genevieve Collins won the GOP primary opposite three opponents and she earns the right to challenge freshman Rep. Colin Allred (D-Dallas) in November.
Several competitive California general election races remain uncalled awaiting final counting of what could be thousands of primary ballots within the individual congressional districts.
In the open 8th District (Rep. Paul Cook-R, running for San Bernardino County Supervisor), Assemblyman Jay Obernolte (R-Hesperia) has secured one general election position. Democrat Christine Bubser leads for the second slot but has not yet eliminated former state Assemblyman Tim Donnelly (R).
No finalists have been called in Rep. Jim Costa’s (D-Fresno) 16th District. Republican Kevin Cockingham is in first place with 38.5 percent, while Costa follows in second with his 37.5 percent. Fresno City Councilwoman Esmeralda Soria (D) is third with 18.4 percent, but the size of the outstanding ballot group suggests that she still has a slight chance to qualify.
Former congressman David Valadao (R) has secured a general election position as has freshman Rep. T.J. Cox (D-Fresno) in the 21st District. The two battled to a 2018 finish that was decided by less than 1,000 votes. At this point, Valadao has 53.1 percent of the vote as compared to Rep. Cox’s 36.1 percent, but the outstanding ballots should drastically change these totals.
Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Tulare/Visalia) currently has secured 59.2 percent and looks to face financial advisor Phil Arballo (D), but the latter man has not yet secured a general election ballot position despite leading fellow Democrat Bobby Bliatout 23.4 – 11.8 percent.
The special election to replace resigned Rep. Katie Hill (D) has not been called either. State Assemblywoman Christy Smith (D-Newhall) leads the large field with 34.7 percent and looks to face defense contactor Mike Garcia (R) who is outpacing former US Rep. Steve Knight (R), 26.0 – 17.7 percent. Again, with no candidate yet projected to secure a slot, these numbers could well change before all of the counting finally ends. The regular election for the two-year term, among largely the same group, is actually tighter among these top three finishers.
In a re-match of a 2018 race in the 39th District, Rep. Gil Cisneros (D-Yorba Linda) trails former state Assemblywoman Young Kim (R), 50.7 – 44.4 percent. Again, these numbers are expected to change once all of the votes are tabulated. Both, however, have secured general election ballot placement.
Turning to Orange County, Rep. Katie Porter (D-Irvine) will face one of three Republican opponents in the general election, Mission Viejo City Councilman Greg Raths (18.8 percent) or candidates Don Sedgwick (13.7 percent) or former Yorba Linda City Councilwoman Peggy Huang (11.3 percent). Rep. Porter has so far garnered 48.5 percent of the tabulated vote.
As expected, freshman Rep. Harley Rouda (D-Laguna Beach) will pair with Orange County Supervisor Michelle Steel (R) in the general election, though neither of these contenders have yet reached the 50 percent mark.
In open District 50 (Rep. Duncan Hunter-R, resigned), 2018 finalist Ammar Campa-Najjar (D) has again qualified for the general election with 34.4 percent of the counted vote. It is likely that former Rep. Darrell Issa (R) will win the second slot over ex-San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio and state Sen. Brian Jones (R-Santee). Issa has a 25-21-11 percent lead over his GOP opponents, but no official call has been made here.
Finally, in open District 53 (Rep Susan Davis-D, retiring) former State Department official Sara Jacobs (D) has secured the first general election slot with 29.6 percent at the present time. It is likely that San Diego City Council President Georgette Gomez (D) will earn the second slot. Currently, she leads Republican Chris Stoddard, 18.4 – 14.0 percent. Should Gomez qualify, we will see a double-Democratic general election in this South Bay San Diego County district.