Trailing Aguilar By A Mere 209 Votes In 31st District Race, Gooch Seeking Recount

(June 19)  The supporters of 31st Congressional District Candidate Lesli Gooch will pursue a recount after the posting of the certified election count that found her trailing the second place finisher by 209 votes.
Under California’s open primary arrangement, the two top finishers in the June primary election face each other in the November General Election.
Gooch, a Republican, polled  9,033 votes or 16.96 percent. Another Republican, Paul Chabot, was the top vote-getter, with 14,163 votes or 26.6 percent. Pete  Aguilar, a Democrat and the best financed candidate in the seven-candidate field that competed on June 3, captured 9,242 votes or 17.36 percent.
The 31st District leans Democratic, with 42 percent of the district’s voters registered as Democrats and 33 percent registered as Republicans. Despite that, two years ago the seat was captured by Republican Gary Miller, who won after he and another Republican, Bob Dutton, captured the most and second most votes in the primary. They bested four Democrats in that race, including Aguilar, the mayor of Redlands. In this year’s primary race, four Democrats and three Republicans competed.
Gooch, who was a staffer in Miller’s office, was endorsed by him, the Redlands Tea Party Patriots and the San Bernardino County Republican Central Committee. Despite Republican hopes that she and Chabot could capture the two top spots in the race and perpetuate the GOP’s hold on the 31st District despite the Democratic registration advantage, the early unofficial, late unofficial and certified official election results showed her close but yet behind Aguilar.
Gooch was damaged by a vitriolic campaign against her that was waged by Chabot, a ploy which steered the lion’s share of the district’s Republican vote his way but ultimately had the effect of allowing Aguilar to capture second.
Among those indicating the Gooch campaign would seek a recount were Tea Party activist and Gooch supporter John Berry and  Gooch’s campaign manager Jeff Stinson.
An analysis of the results in several of the district’s precincts reflected voting patterns that were at odds with the Gooch campaign’s expectations given the demographic and historic voting patterns there. The recount, which will be paid for by the Gooch campaign, will begin with and concentrate on those suspect precincts. If significant shifting of the counts take place in those precincts, the recount will be widened.
A recount is permitted under state law. Nevertheless, the posted certified results are now considered final and can only be overturned by a certification of different numbers reflecting a different result as a consequence of the recount. That recount will be done manually.
San Bernardino County Registrar of Voters Michael Scarpello and his staff already performed a one percent manual audit of all of the county’s election results, finding that all results were verified.

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