Inland Empire State Senate Race Tight

Two candidates were in a virtual tie with about half the votes counted Tuesday night in a special state Senate election in the Inland Empire.

With 129 of 267 precincts reporting, rookie Assemblywoman Nell Soto, a Democrat from Pomona, had 10,175 votes, closely trailed by Republican businessman Robert Guzman of Fontana, who had 10,100 votes.

Far behind the leaders was Democrat David R. Eshleman, the mayor of Fontana, with 2,799 votes.

At stake in the conservative-leaning Democratic district, which stretches from Pomona in Los Angeles County to Loma Linda and San Bernardino in San Bernardino County, is the former seat of Democrat Joe Baca of Rialto, who was elected to Congress in November.

Until he retired in 1998, conservative Democrat Ruben Ayala of Chino held the 32nd District office for 24 years.

If no one gets more than 50% of the vote, there will be a runoff between the top two candidates.

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