Week in Review : MAJOR EVENTS, IMAGES AND PEOPLE IN ORANGE COUNTY NEWS. : COUNTY : Badham Wins Again, Democrats Still Counting
A tumultuous election campaign in the 40th Congressional District produced victories for establishment leaders of both political parties. But the normally placid coastal Orange County district is not likely to settle down soon.
Rep. Robert E. Badham (R-Newport Beach) may have beaten back his most vigorous challenger in 12 years by nearly a 2-1 vote. But Republican primary opponent Nathan Rosenberg’s 34% showing appeared to leave the incumbent more vulnerable than ever to a Democratic assault.
In the Democratic primary to unseat Badham, Orange County Democratic Party Chairman Bruce Sumner appeared on Thursday to have pulled off a rare triumph in his write-in campaign against Santa Ana technical writer Art Hoffmann, a supporter of political extremist Lyndon H. LaRouche Jr.
But the race for the Democratic nomination--a race that has attracted national attention--went into limbo Friday when the registrar of voters said the apparent victor, 61-year-old Sumner, appeared to be losing as the count progressed.
But a top elections official said that many write-in ballots appear to have been overlooked when precinct workers counted them by hand on election night, and that a formal recount will probably show Sumner the winner.
Wednesday morning’s unofficial returns showed Sumner as the winner by a 1,459 vote margin. As of Friday, the official hand count of write-in votes put Sumner 465 votes behind Hoffmann, Registrar A. E. Olson said.
Based on those figures, Olson said, “If no recount is requested, Sumner will have lost.”
Sumner declared he would request a recount once the vote is certified, maybe as soon as this week.
But questions about the eventual winner emerged because of the nature of the vote-counting process, which is done by hand for write-in votes rather than by the machine counting for all other candidates. And by Friday, there was an unusually wide disparity--a difference of nearly 2,000 votes--between the machine tally for write-in votes and the hand count, Olson said. The victor in the race to unseat Badham, who has served six terms in the nation’s wealthiest and most Republican district, may not finally be determined until the 4th of July.
Rosenberg’s showing in the face of the stern disapproval of GOP party regulars “reflects deep dissatisfaction on the Republican side with Badham,” said Sumner, a former state assemblyman and Superior Court judge.
For his part, Hoffmann declared that his tenuous margin of victory--after a vituperative campaign that culminated in an acrimonious satellite debate between Sumner and LaRouche--was proof positive of a “voter’s rebellion” among Democrats. He hedged his comments Friday after learning the cloudiness of the results, remarking that “I’m not going to go into a frenzy yet. I’m going to wait until the fat lady sings.”