On the third day, Melissa Hurtado crept ever so closer to victory.
The Sanger city councilwoman led incumbent Republican Andy Vidak, a Kings County grower, by 3,128 votes Thursday, then extended her lead Friday in the 14th State Senate District race by another 852 votes to nearly 4,000.
Hurtado, a Democrat, was taking nothing for granted, though.
"There's still votes out there," she said. But "I'm feeling optimistic about the outcome."
On election night she tossed and turned in her bed as the drama unfolded. Allies hung out late, keeping tabs on the results, but she eventually chose to retire from the noise and stress. "I tried to get some sleep," she said, "but I had family and friends giving me updates at all hours."
She had recovered enough by Friday to finally address the media.
However it turns out — and we'll have a better idea Monday evening, when another batch of numbers drops — she'll be fine, she said.
"I was at peace with whatever the outcome; I am still," Hurtado said. "It's looking favorable, but I already told myself I was at peace and, win or lose, I would continue to advocate for our community.
"This campaign was never about me," she said, "it was about our district, it was about getting our fair share and getting a new leader to help us get our fair share."
Her priorities are set, should she in fact go to Sacramento, she said.
"We need jobs, education, health care and water," Hurtado said. "We need more money for our district."
"We have valley fever, and especially in rural communities we have transportation (issues) — people need to get to their health care, to the doctor. There's a lot we need to work on."
She said she also wants to focus on substance abuse.
Hurtado lives more than 90 minutes from Bakersfield, but, like Vidak, she promises not to be a stranger.
"I love Bakersfield, I love Kern County. Every time I go down there, people just treat me very nice. I campaigned quite a bit in Bakersfield, Arvin. ..."
Reminded that the 14th District goes into Kern, Kings, Fresno and Tulare counties, she offered, "My heart is torn four ways."