Local Politics

Monday, Nov 12 2012 05:29 PM

Salas seizes 32nd Assembly seat

BY JAMES BURGER CALIFORNIAN STAFF WRITER jburger@bakersfield.com

Democrat Rudy Salas has defeated Republican Pedro Rios in the race for the 32nd Assembly seat, The Californian has determined.

As expected, the counting of more than 8,200 additional Kern County votes in the race increased Salas' 268-vote lead over Rios to 2,503.

With a little more than 6,200 votes left to count -- and 4,800 of them in Kern County where Salas is winning 60 percent of the vote -- it is nearly impossible that Rios could make up enough ground to capture the seat.

The Californian based its finding on new vote counts that were released Monday.

Rios, who is winning just less than 59 percent of the vote in smaller, more sparsely populated Kings County, would have to claim 70 percent of the remaining votes in both counties to snatch a razor-thin win over Salas, according to a Californian analysis of the numbers.

Salas is much more likely to extend his lead over Rios given his strong performance in Kern County.

In a written statement Monday evening, Salas, a Bakersfield City Council member, thanked his campaign team and the voters in the 32nd District for their help.

"It is a privilege and honor to serve the residents of the 32nd Assembly District to move California forward. I am eager to work on bringing more jobs, better schools, safer neighborhoods and helping Sacramento balance its budget," Salas wrote.

Rios did not return a call seeking comment.

Count

In total Kern County elections officials counted 36,332 additional vote-by-mail ballots and released the numbers Monday afternoon.

For the most part the count did nothing to change the outcome of several other major races in Kern County.

Elections staff now move on to counting a smaller pool of less than 20,000 remaining vote-by-mail and provisional ballots, Kern County Elections Division Chief Karen Rhea said Monday.

Those ballots usually take more time to count because they are damaged, the registration status of the voter must be verified or they require a individual hand review.

Other updates in Monday's count included:

Bakersfield City Council Ward Two

Restaurant owner Terry Maxwell widened the gap between himself and rival Elliott Kirschenmann in the race for the Bakersfield City Council's Ward Two seat.

Last week Maxwell had 45.6 percent of the votes in the central Bakersfield district to Kirschenmann's 43 percent.

Monday's new numbers extended Maxwell's lead to 359 votes, increasing his share of the win to 45.9 percent while Kirschenmann's declined to 42.1 percent. Distant third-place candidate David Mensch got 11.1 percent of the vote.

Maxwell claimed victory on Wednesday, the day after Election Day, but Kirschenmann was not willing to concede, saying the number of outstanding votes could turn the race around.

Neither Maxwell nor Kirschenmann could be reached Monday evening for a comment.

1st District Supervisor

Retired Navy pilot and commanding officer Mick Gleason extended his lead in the 1st District Supervisor's race over Roy Ashburn to nearly 7,700 votes in the new count.

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