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State controller's race drags on as 2 Democrats vie to face Republican

State controller's race drags on as 2 Democrats vie to face Republican
Ballots are still being counted to determine whether Democratic Assemblyman John A. Pérez, left, or Democratic Board of Equalization member Betty Yee, center, faces off against Republican Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin in November's general election for state controller.

Almost a week after the last ballots were cast, the results of the primary election for state controller are still up in the air.

Two Democrats, Assemblyman John A. Pérez and Board of Equalization member Betty Yee, are battling for a spot on the November ballot. As of Monday morning, Yee had 351 more votes.

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It's a tiny sliver of a lead in a race where millions of ballots have been cast, and hundreds of thousands still need to be counted.

On Wednesday, Pérez expressed confidence that he would advance to the general election. The following day, Yee issued a statement saying, "I remain hopeful about the ultimate outcome after all ballots have been counted."

Pérez and Yee are vying for second place in the primary. Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin, a Republican, received the most votes and will advance to the November election.

The controller is responsible for managing the state's cash flow, ensuring that bills are paid on time. He or she also oversees a team of auditors who examine state and local finances. The controller also sits on a number of influential boards.

The controller's race was widely expected to be one of the most hotly contested of the primary. However, it has been complicated by the surprising strength of a second Republican candidate, former California City mayor David Evans.

Evans now trails Pérez and Yee by about 11,000 votes, but at some points over the last several days he was in second place.

In California, the top two candidates in the primary advance to the general election, regardless of their party affiliation. If Evans had finished second, Democrats would have been shut out from the controller's race in November, and Republicans would have been guaranteed a statewide seat.

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