Republican Andy Vidak, a Hanford cherry farmer, snatched an upset victory from a well-funded Democratic campaign in Tuesday’s 16th Senate District special primary.
Democrat Leticia Perez conceded the race to Vidak early Wednesday morning.
There were 4,000 votes left uncounted in Fresno County and 1,473 in Kern County — two places where Vidak’s support was weak — and 135 in Kings County where he was strong.
It was unclear how many votes were untallied in Tulare County, which trended toward Vidak on election night.
But if county-by-county voting trends hold true, Vidak will be able to absorb a hit to his vote totals and hold on to the 50 percent plus one vote margin he needed to win the seat outright and avoid a runoff in July.
Vidak had captured 51.9 percent of the vote Wednesday morning, according to unofficial California Secretary of State returns, and had a cushion of about 1,000 votes between himself and a runoff.
And that should be enough to protect his round one win as long as he can claim more than 30 percent of the outstanding Kern and Fresno county votes, a Californian analysis indicates.
On election night Vidak claimed 43.5 percent of the vote in Fresno and 36.8 percent of the vote in Kern.
He was beating Perez, a Kern County supervisor from Bakersfield, who had 41.7 percent of the vote districtwide.
“I want to congratulate Andy Vidak on winning this hard-fought race,” Perez wrote in an early morning press release.
“I am humbled and honored that so many people encouraged and supported me during the campaign with their time, energy and dedication. I will continue to work on behalf of Central Valley residents and families, and share my message of hope with them.”
Vidak called in to “First Look with Scott Cox” shortly after 8:30 a.m. Wednesday.
“I’m fabulous. Fabulous,” Vidak said in response to Cox’s question of how he’s doing.
“Sacramento has gotten so far to one side that folks just want some balance,” VIdak said.
Vidak said he’ll work with anyone.
“We can’t be flame throwers or rock throwers,” Vidak said.
He said it’s not over until it’s over, but he thinks he’s in a very good spot.
“Looking forward to getting up there (Sacramento),” Vidak said.
Going up to Sacramento is just an extension of his campaign, Vidak said.
Three other candidates claimed small fractions of the voter pool in the race — but failed to have any impact on Vidak’s victory.
Paulina Miranda claimed 2.6 percent; Francisco Ramirez Jr., 2.9 percent; and Mohammad Arif earned .7 percent of the vote.
The 16th District Senate seat became open after Michael Rubio resigned from the post. The 16th includes portions of Kern, Tulare, Kings and Fresno counties.
Vidak will simply fill out the rest of Rubio's four-year term, meaning he will have to run again in 2014. The boundaries of the district will be different, reflecting redistricting changes made in 2011.
The boundaries used in Tuesday's election were those drawn in 2001. The district will also get a new number, 14.
"Special elections are unique voter-turnout environments and this is clearly not the last we've heard of the immensely talented Supervisor Perez," Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said in a statement reported by the Sacramento Bee. "I'm proud of how our Democratic Senate supermajority and our accomplished campaign team responded to this unexpected vacancy and rallied in support of Leticia's candidacy."