Former Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach on Thursday declared victory in the special election held two days earlier for a vacant state Senate seat after a final tally of ballots gave him 50.3% of the vote.
"I have a real love for this state and I'm looking forward to making it a better one," Moorlach said late Thursday.
A Republican from Costa Mesa, Moorlach won the majority vote in the 37th Senate District required to win the seat outright, avoiding a May runoff with the second-place finisher, Assemblyman Donald Wagner (R-Irvine). Wagner received 44.1% of the vote in the count released late Thursday.
Republican Naz Namazi placed third with 3.5% of the vote and write-in candidate Louise Stewardson, a Democrat, finished last.
The district includes the cities of Costa Mesa, Laguna Beach, Lake Forest, Huntington Beach, Orange, Tustin and part of Anaheim. The seat was vacated after former Sen. Mimi Walters was elected to U.S. Congress in November.
Earlier Thursday, Sharon Runner took the oath of office to join the state Senate representing the 21st District after she was elected Tuesday as the sole candidate on the ballot. That seat was vacated when Steve Knight was elected to Congress.