Seven Up Early In This Year’s Election Now Losing

SAN BERNARDINO—In at least seven of San Bernardino County’s municipal races held on November 6, a candidate who trailed after the initial vote tallying has moved to overtake a rival who appeared to be the winner.
In Rancho Cucamonga, Upland, San Bernardino, Hesperia, Victorville, Barstow and Needles, the seven candidates who jumped to a lead when the registrar of voters released its first count at 8:05 p.m.on November 6, a mere five minutes after the closing of the 2,209 polling stations around the county, were Marc Steinorth in Rancho Cucamonga’s District 3 City Council race, who was outdistancing the four others – Ben Cutler, Edward Rodarte, John Gallego-Cordero and Ryan Hutchison – vying for the post; incumbent Upland City Councilwoman Carol Timm who was out in front of her two challengers, Tammy Rapp and Rudy Zuniga, in the Upland Fourth District contest; incumbent San Bernardino Mayor Carey Davis who held an ever-so-slight lead over his challenger, Councilman John Valdivia; Brigit Bennington, who claimed an equally tenuous advantage over appointed incumbent councilman Jeremiah Brosowske in the Hesperia District 4 match-up; incumbent Victorville City Councilman Eric Negrete, who was running in second behind Debra Jones among a field of eleven candidates competing for the two seats at stake in that city’s council race this year, putting him ahead of Lizet Angulo, Daniel Ramos, Rita Ramirez, Jerry laws, Lionel Dew, Manuel Musquiz, Valentin Godina, Christine Blakeley and Leslie Irving; incumbent Barstow Councilman Merrill Gracey, who was leading Bennie Fedrick, Brianna Martinez and James Noble in the battle for primacy in Barstow’s District 2; and in Needles, Barbara Beard, who had the third position in the five-contestant battle for three spots on the Needles City Council, behind incumbent Mayor Edward Paget and Timothy Terrel but ahead of Louise Evans and Zachery Longacre.
Since that time, those seven who appeared to be on a trajectory to serve on their respective city councils for the next four years now appear likely to be forced onto the political sidelines. Some of those reversals of fortune were abrupt; others were more drawn out.
When the San Bernardino County Registrar of Voters released the first batch of voting returns five minutes after the 8 p.m. closing of the polls Tuesday night November 6, Marc Steinorth, the incumbent 40th District assemblyman who opted against seeking reelection to the lower house of the California Legislature earlier this year and then failed in his electoral effort against Janice Rutherford in the June race for county supervisor in the Second District, had moved into a cushioned lead over his competitors in the race to represent Rancho Cucamonga’s newly drawn District 3. He had received 1,207 votes or 38.23 percent. His closest rival was Ryan Hutchison, whose 1,010 votes or 31.99 percent, put him nearly 200 votes off the pace Steinorth had set. Those results consisted exclusively of early mail-in ballots, as zero of District 3’s 23 precincts, i.e., polling places, had reported at that point.
At 10 p.m., 18 of the 23 precincts had reported. Steinorth was still up by a fair margin over Hutchison, again by nearly 200 votes, 1,575 votes or 37.04 percent to 1,378 votes or 32.41 percent. At midnight, no further ballot boxes from the remaining five polling places had been processed.
By 4 a.m. on the morning of November 7, all 23 precincts had reported, and Hutchison had closed a significant degree of the distance between him and Steinorth, who at that point yet led, 2,393 votes or 34.53 percent to Hutchison’s 2,374 votes or 34.25 percent.
At 4 p.m. on November 9, as provisional votes and straggling late-arriving mail-in ballots were arriving, Hutchison narrowed the gap further, to a mere two vote lead, with Steinorth having recorded 2,724 votes or 34.33 percent and Hutchison polling 2,722 votes or 34.30 percent.
On November 15, the registrar of voters office released figures to show that Hutchison had accelerated past Steinorth, netting 84 more votes in the next count than had the assemblyman. At that point, Hutchison had 3,429 votes and Steinorth had niched 3,347.
As of Tuesday of this week, Steinorth had fallen even further off the winning canter. He had 3,798 votes or 33.33 percent. Hutchison was up 147 votes with 3,945 votes or 34. 62 percent.
In the initial blush of the vote count involving just the mail-in ballots received by the end of the day on Tuesday November 6, in Upland’s District 4, Carol Timm looked to be on a trajectory to remain in office another four years, having taken a comfortable if not quite commanding advantage over her competitors with 441 votes or 45.23 percent over Rudy Zuniga’s 367 votes or 37.64 percent. Tammy Rapp was in a distant third with 17.13 percent. At the 10 p.m. count, eight of District 4’s ten precincts reported. Zuniga was picking up ground on Timm, but that momentum did not appear to be sufficient to overcome the incumbent’s edge. Timm had at that point captured 620 votes or 43.42 percent to Zuniga’s 575 votes or 40.27 percent. Rapp trailed with 16.32 percent. The two remaining precincts were not counted by midnight nor by 2 a.m. Timm turned in for the evening. When she awoke, she was startled to learn that things had gone badly in those two outstanding precincts, indeed abominably wrong for her. From those two precincts Timm picked up 431 votes, putting her total at 1,051 votes. Zuniga, however, from the same two polling stations snagged a whopping 582 votes, seven more than he had claimed in the early arriving mail-in ballots and the first eight precincts combined. He had thereby zoomed into first place, with 1,157 votes. His percentage at that point was 44.53 percent, while Timm’s had fallen to 40.45 percent. Rapp’s showing at that point was 15.01 percent.
At 4 p.m. Thursday November 15 the registrar of voters updated the election results. Zuniga’s total had climbed to 1,638 votes or 45.37 percent, widening his lead over Timm, who stood with 1,436 votes or 39.78 percent. Rapp had 14.85 percent. This week, on November 20, the results were updated once more. The trend continued. Zuniga’s vote total had mounted to 1,822 or 45.72 percent. Timm’s numbers stood at 1,579 or 39.62 percent.
The registrar of voters’ 8:05 p.m. November 6 posting showed that in the San Bernardino mayoral race, the incumbent, Carey Davis, was slightly ahead of John Valdivia. Counted at that point were the results of early mail-in ballots and votes that had been cast at the polling place maintained at the registrar of voters office headquarters at 777 East Rialto Avenue in the weeks and days running up to and including the day of the election. With that single precinct having reported, Davis at that point owned a slim lead over Valdivia, having notched 4,937 votes or 50.82 percent to Valdivia’s 4,778 or 49.18 percent.
At the 10 p.m. posting, at which point 77 of the city’s 178 precincts had reported, the results were trending toward Valdivia, though Davis still led, 6,672 votes or 50.13 percent to 6,637 votes or 49.87 percent.
At midnight, with 107 of 178 precincts reporting, Valdivia had edged past Davis, who had recorded 10,203 votes, a drop off to 48.92 percent to Valdivia’s 10,652 votes or 51.08 percent. At 4.a.m. on November 7, all 178 of the city’s precincts had reported and Valdivia had widened his lead slightly. The challenger at that point tallied 10,816 votes or 51.2 percent to Davis’s 10,308 votes or 48.8 percent. Those results were not considered final, however, as straggling mail-in ballots were yet to arrive, and provisional ballots, that is, ones that are potentially in dispute based upon doubt as to whether those casting them are properly registered or in some measure out of compliance with voting rules, had yet to be verified, and were not tallied.
On November 9, the results were updated with some provisional ballots that were verified being added to the mix, along with mail-in ballots that had come in on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and earlier that day. By that count, Davis had fallen even further behind, having logged 12,080 votes or 48.79 percent to Valdivia’s 12,681 or 51.21 percent. This week, on Tuesday, November 20, 2018, Valdivia had bounded further beyond Davis’s reach. Valdivia was more than one thousand votes up, having captured 17,264 votes or 51.99 percent to Davis’s 15,944 votes, or 48.01 percent.
In the immediate aftermath of the voting on election night, Jeremiah Brosowske looked to be in danger of losing the council position that had been conferred upon him just three months ago when he was appointed to fill the gap that had been created when Mayor Russ Blewett passed away in May and Councilman Bill Holland was elevated to replace him, thus creating a vacancy. Brosowske was obliged to seek election as Blewett, Holland and Councilman Paul Russ had last been reelected to the council in 2014 and their terms were set to expire this year. In the meantime, Hesperia had changed from holding its council elections at-large to by-district. The darling of the San Bernardino County GOP establishment and the immediate past executive director of the San Bernardino County Republican Central Committee, the 28-year-old Brosowske had been encouraged to establish a residence in Hesperia after Blewett’s death so he might be eligible to replace him on the council. Brosowske, who spent a portion of his youth in Apple Valley but was living outside of San Bernardino County earlier this year, quickly found quarters in Hesperia, more specifically within the city’s newly created District 4.
Brosowske’s strengths were that he had the entirety of the local Republican political establishment behind him and an uncommon degree of expertise in running political campaigns. He had been selected to the post of executive director of the San Bernardino County Republican Central Committee by then-Central Committee Chairman Curt Hagman because he had worked assiduously on behalf of eight Republican candidates in 2014, all of whom won. Brosowske’s weaknesses and Bennington’s strengths were that Bennington was a decades-long resident of Hesperia and the 4th District, and active within the community. She was well known and respected while Brosowske was widely seen as a carpetbagger and political opportunist who was using District 4 as a stepping stone to assist him in achieving his ambition for yet-higher office.
In the initial release of results at 8:05 p.m. election night, results that did not include any of the ballots counted from District 4’s 18 precincts but simply the mail-in ballots that had been received up to that point, Bennington had a razor thin margin over Brosowske, 448 votes or 50.28 percent to 443 votes or 49.72 percent.
At 10 p.m. Tuesday November 6, 14 of the 18 precincts in District 4 had reported, with the voting trending slightly in Bennington’s direction. She remained ever-so-slightly ahead of Brosowske, 653 votes or 50.7 percent to 635 votes or 49.3 percent.
There was no change at midnight. At 4 a.m. Wednesday morning, all precincts’ ballots were in and counted. The vote tally at that point stood 1,011 or 50.75 percent for Bennington to 981 or 49.25 percent for Brosowske.
On November 9 at 4 p.m., with most of the mail-in ballots having arrived and some of the provisional ballots having been validated, Brosowske had moved to within two votes of Bennington. He claimed 1,115 votes or 49.96 percent. She had 1,117 votes or 50.04 percent.
On November 16, Brosowske had overtaken Bennington, with 1,525 votes or 51.8 percent to her 1,410 votes or 48.2 percent. As of Tuesday November 20, Brosowske was still leading, though the momentum was swinging back toward Bennington. That vote count stood at 1,560 or 51.69 percent for Brosowske and 1,458 or 48.31 percent for Bennington.
Eric Negrete, who had captured a seat on the Victorville City Council in 2014, from that perch appeared to be making a mark for himself in California politics in the persona of a conservative Latino Republican who was more than willing to swim against the current of liberalism, not the least remarkable aspect of which was his strident opposition to the open borders philosophy of the Democratic Party.
On election night earlier this month, Negrete was the only incumbent in the race for two open seats on the council, as his council colleague, Jim Kennedy had opted against seeking reelection this year. Early in the counting of ballots, Negrete managed to assume a what looked to be a solid grip on second place. At 8:05 p.m. November 6, with just one of the city’s 74 precincts having reported and all of the mail-in ballots that arrived up to that point having been tallied, Debra Jones had captured first place with 1,849 votes or 17.54 percent. Negrete held second with 1,697 votes or 16.10 percent. Lionel Dew was in third, with 1,463 votes or 13.88 percent. Trailing Dew was Rita Ramirez-Dean, with 1,361 votes or 12.91 percent. Lizet Angulo, in fifth place, was within striking distance with 1,455 votes or 13.8 percent.
At 10 p.m., with 25 of the city’s 74 precincts having reported, Jones still led the pack with 2,436 votes or 17.7 percent, and Negrete was yet clinging to second place, with 2,129 votes or 15.47 percent. Dew remained in third, with 1,907 votes or 13.86 percent. Angulo, meanwhile, had moved into fourth place with 1,870 votes or 13.59 percent, displacing Ramirez-Dean, the one-time Congressional candidate who had been a trustee with Copper Mountain College in Joshua Tree, which is located well beyond the Victor Valley halfway across the Mojave Desert in the Morongo Valley. Ramirez-Dean had slipped to fifth place with 1,831 votes or 13.31 percent.
At midnight, with 33 of the city’s 74 precincts reporting, Jones had 2,842 votes for a leading 17.63 percent; Negrete claimed 2,444 votes for 15.17 percent and second place; Dew was in third place with 2,200 votes and 13.65 percent, just 16 votes ahead of Ramirez-Dean, who had climbed back into fourth place ahead of Angulo, with 2,184 votes or 13.55 percent. Angulo was not too far back at 2,128 votes, or 13.2 percent.
At 4 a.m. on November 7, all 74 precincts had reported. Jones was comfortably on top with 3,928 votes or 17.71 percent and Negrete remained in second place with 3,155 votes, though his percentage had dropped to 14.22 percent. At that point, Ramirez-Dean had blasted into third place, overtaking Dew. She had 3,053 votes or 13.76 percent, just 102 fewer than Negrete. Dew stood at 2,949 votes or 13.3 percent and Angulo had 2,888 votes or 13.02 percent.
Negrete remained in second place on November 9, with Ramirez-Dean nipping at his heels. On November 15, Ramirez-Dean inched passed him. The following day, the San Bernardino County Registrar of Voters Office made one of its pre-scheduled releases of voting tallies from throughout the county. That showed Ramirez with 110 more votes than the incumbent councilman, 4,698 votes to 4,588 votes.
On Tuesday November 20, the latest figures released by the registrar of voters office showed Jones running away with first place with 6,177 votes or 18.02 percent; Ramirez-Dean pulling further away from Negrete with 4,832 votes or 14.1 percent; Negrete languishing in third with 4,676 votes or 13.64 percent; Dew in fourth place with 4,462 votes or 13.02 percent and Angulo rounding out the top five with 4,381 votes or 12.78 percent.
To remain on the city council in Barstow, incumbent Councilman Merrill Gracey this year had to stand for election in that city’s newly created District 2. Vying with him were James Noble, Brianna Martinez and Bennie Fedrick. Shortly after the closing of the polls on November 6, with the registrar of voters disclosing at 8:05 p.m. the first count of the night which entailed the count from a single precinct and mail-in ballots received up until that day, Gracey appeared to be on his way to an easy victory. He had bagged 113 votes or 37.54 percent, followed by Noble’s 90 votes or 29.9 percent, Martinez’s 62 votes or 20.6 percent and Fedrick’s 36 votes or 11.96 percent.
At 10 p.m., with six of Barstow’s District 2’s 18 precincts in and counted, Gracey was holding steady with 153 total votes or 36.43 percent, Noble had 117 votes or 27.86 percent, Martinez had risen to 100 votes and 23.81 percent and Fedrick had logged 50 votes or 11.9 percent.
No further precincts had come in by midnight. By 4 a.m. on November 7, votes from all 18 precincts were tallied, showing Noble to have made dynamic progress forward, such that he had 234 votes or 31.16 percent, just 12 votes behind Gracey’s 246 or 32.76 percent. Martinez held 169 votes and Fedrick 102.
In the more than two weeks that have intervened, with later-arriving mail-in ballots coming in along with provisional votes which were not counted until their validity was established, Noble has turned the tables on Gracey. As of Tuesday of this week, Noble has 356 votes or 33.46 percent, which puts him 30 votes up on Gracey, with 326 votes or 30.64 percent.
In Needles, political newcomer Barbara Beard had a surprisingly strong showing in the early arriving mail-in ballots among the five individuals vying for city council this year. Running for three seats were Edward Paget, the city’s current mayor; incumbent Councilwoman Louise Evans; and challengers Zachery Longacre, Timothy Terral and Beard. Paget had opted to step down to a council run while incumbent Councilman Jeff Williams had moved to run for mayor.
At 8:05 p.m. on November 6, the registrar of voters office put out that Paget had collected 239 votes for 25.92 percent of the vote; Terral had 177 votes for 19.2 percent, putting him in second place; Beard had logged 176 votes for 19.09 percent; Evans was four votes behind with 172 or 18.66 percent; and Longacre was in last place with a still-respectable 158 votes.
At 10 p.m. on November 6, neither of the city’s two precincts had reported but 69 more mail-in ballots had been counted. Beard maintained her four point edge over Evans and had at that point moved into second ahead of Terral, who had slipped to third place, three votes up on Evans. At that hour, Paget’s total stood at 225 votes or 25.73 percent; Beard had rung up 190 votes or 19.17 percent; Terral claimed 189 votes or 19.07 percent, Evans’ voter endorsements totaled 186 or 18.77 percent and Longacre was within shouting distance with 171 votes or 17.26 percent.
At 4 a.m. on November 7, both of Needles’ precincts had reported, changing the outcome from what it had been. Paget was uncatchable with 501 votes; Terral had moved back into second place with 375 votes or 19.39 percent; Evans was in third place with 361 votes or 18.67 percent; Longacre was just two votes behind her with 359 votes or 18.56 percent; and Beard had dropped off to 338 votes or 17.48 percent.
As of Tuesday of this week, Paget, with 673 votes or 26.56 percent; Terral with 491 votes or 19.38 percent; and Evans, with 473 votes or 18.67 percent appear to have the inside track to serve on the council for the next four years. Longacre, with 472 votes or 18.63 percent, was a single vote behind Evans; and Beard, with 425 votes or 16.77 percent remains in fifth place.
The next posting of results is set for Monday November 26 at 4 p.m. It is not anticipated that the election will be certified prior to December 2.
According to the registrar of voters office, the ballots remaining to be processed countywide include mail ballots issued before the mail ballot deadline on October 30 and received within three business days following the election, consisting of approximately 13,300. Of the total estimated remaining mail ballots to be processed, about 900 mail ballots have been identified as received without a voter signature and about 4,600 mail ballots have been identified as requiring further signature review. There are outstanding approximately 1,300 ballots cast that were damaged and require duplication. Countywide, there were roughly 38,000 provisional ballots cast at polling places. Some 2,500 conditional voter registration applications were received at early vote locations.
-Mark Gutglueck

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