Orange County Supervisor Andrew Do is close to winning reelection to his 1st District seat, based on voting results Wednesday that showed him with a strong lead over opponent Michele Martinez, a Santa Ana councilwoman.
In one of the county’s most competitive battles, Do, a Republican, received 53.1% of the vote while Democratic challenger Martinez collected 46.9%. Workers at the county Registrar of Voters still must count 108,000 provisional ballots — and Orange County Registrar Neal Kelley could not specify how many of these belong to the 1st District race.
“We’re still digging out from last night,” he said Wednesday afternoon. “When you’re looking at a sea of documents in a warehouse, you have no idea what ballot belongs to who. I think it will take another day or two to get some numbers.”
Still, Do’s campaign was confident of victory.
“Andrew worked hard and voters rewarded him because of his priorities,” said John Thomas, Do’s campaign strategist. “He understands that homelessness, public safety and healthcare are the main issues that the citizens identify with and he charged forward, focusing on issues that matter to them.”
Martinez’s supporters said it’s too early to declare a winner.
“We’re waiting until everything is counted,” says Derek Humphrey, campaign manager for the 10-year councilwoman. “We’re proud of Michele’s record and we’re proud of the support we received from the residents, despite being outspent and mercilessly attacked.”
In the months leading to the election, both sides relentlessly criticized the other for actions and inaction on a number of issues, with Martinez targeting Do for using taxpayer money to send more than 1 million mailers so far this year highlighting his involvement in community events.
Do accused Martinez of using public funds to stay in luxury hotels on travel to Europe.
Both candidates constantly sparred over homelessness, with Martinez blaming Do and fellow supervisors — who oversee a $6-billion budget — of failing to move quickly to address conditions at a homeless encampment at the Santa Ana Civic Center, within a short distance of many city, county and state offices and thousands of government workers.
She led efforts on her council to declare the area a “public health crisis” and ask city officials to boost code enforcement and police patrols to make the area safer.
Amid the fighting, Do touted his success in hiring a county homeless “czar” to coordinate services, and he and the board unanimously approved the creation in October of a temporary homeless shelter called the Courtyard in an old bus terminal.
Do had trailed Martinez in the June primary, with the Democrat winning 38.1% of the vote compared with 34.3% for Do.
This election marked one of the most expensive supervisor races in Orange County in the last two decades, with Do spending $813,000, more than four times what Martinez spent.
Victory would give Do a full four-year term for a seat he won in a 2015 special election, replacing current state Sen. Janet Nguyen. The board currently has an Asian American majority with all five supervisors registered Republicans.
Do’s 1st District includes Garden Grove, Santa Ana, Westminster, parts of Fountain Valley and unincorporated Midway City, an area reflecting huge growth in Latino and Vietnamese American voters.
Do had allocated a six-figure sum for bilingual TV ads that Thomas said helped to woo voters.