85 votes and counting: O.C. supervisor race down to the wire

O.C. supervisor race is a cliffhanger as registrar waits on today's mail for final ballots

A cliffhanger race for a seat on the Orange County Board of Supervisors may come down to the final few absentee ballots that arrive in the mail Friday.

Andrew Do, who campaigned vigorously in Orange County’s sprawling Vietnamese enclave, is leading in the special election -- though by early Friday his lead had shrunk to 85 votes.

Do took on political veteran Lou Correa, a former state senator who was by far the better-known candidate in the race.

If Do’s lead holds, the Board of Supervisors would have an Asian American majority for the first time. Michelle Park Steel, a Korean immigrant, and Lisa Barlett, a Japanese American, were elected to the five-member board in November.

Neal Kelley, registrar of voters, said he expects to certify the election by 8 p.m. Friday, after the last mail delivery of the day. Either candidate could request a recount.

Historically, Vietnamese American candidates have done well with absentee ballots because activists in the immigrant community focus heavily on registering voters, especially senior citizens, urging them to use translated written materials and to send their choices by mail.

A former Garden Grove councilman, Do has twice served as former Supervisor Janet Nguyen's chief of staff and now could be in line to replace his old boss, who campaigned intensely for him in the Vietnamese-language media. Nguyen was elected to the state Senate last fall.

Do was elected to the Garden Grove City Council in 2008 and resigned in 2011.

Correa, who has wide name recognition across the county, led the field in fundraising, bringing in nearly $80,000 in six weeks. A former supervisor, he won the 1st District board seat in 2004, later resigning in 2006 after his election to the state Senate, where he served two terms.

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