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Republican Lesli Gooch seeks recount in Inland Empire congressional race

Lesli Gooch seeks recount in congressional race. Pete Aguilar won place on ballot by just 209 votes
Lesli Gooch, who narrowly lost 2nd place on ballot to Pete Aguilar, seeks recount

Republican Lesli Gooch has asked for a recount in an Inland Empire congressional district primary in which she missed making the fall ballot by just 209 votes.

Gooch spokesman Jeff Stinson said Thursday the campaign has identified several precincts it wants recounted, a process that could take several days. 

State law requires that a person who requests a recount pay for it by the day, in advance; if the new tabulation changes the outcome in the requestor's favor, he or she would be reimbursed.

If Gooch prevails, she would bounce Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar from second place, once again denying him and his party a crack at a seat that, according to demographics and voting patterns, should be held by a Democrat. 

Military veteran Paul Chabot, a Republican, placed first in the seven-candidate June 3 primary election. He won 14,163, or 26.6%, of the 53,249 ballots cast.  Aguilar won 9,242, and Gooch got 9,033.

Two years ago, during the first wide use of California’s top-two elections system, four Democrats on the primary ballot, including Aguilar, splintered their party’s votes, sending two Republicans to the fall contest that ultimately was won by Gary Miller.

Now the Rancho Cucamonga lawmaker is retiring and politics watchers have been wondering whether history would repeat itself. 

Aguilar said in a statement that he was "disappointed but not surprised" about the challenge to the election results but was confidant he would keep his place on the fall ballot.

"I was declared as a winner in the election and I expect that any recount will confirm the same result," Aguilar said.

The campaign spokesman for Gooch, a longtime aide to Miller, who had endorsed her, saw it differently.

"With the close nature of this race, it is important that we complete this process to ensure the integrity of this election and our political process," Stinson said.

A spokeswoman for the San Bernardino County Registrar's office said it does not expect the outcome to change but was moving ahead with preparations for the recount to start within seven days.

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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