Assemblyman John Pérez ends recount after failing to gain traction

Betty Yee, left, a Bay Area Democrat, will face Ashley Swearengin, the Republican mayor of Fresno, in the race for California controller in November.
(Handout photos)

Assemblyman John A. Pérez is pulling the plug on an unsuccessful recount in the state controller’ race, halting the review of primary ballots one week after it began. 

The decision by Pérez, a Los Angeles Democrat, clears a path for Betty Yee, a Bay Area Democrat and member of the Board of Equalization, to advance to the general election in November.

Pérez launched the recount after finishing 481 votes behind Yee in the June 3 primary, but he failed to gain more than a handful of votes in Kern and Imperial counties over the last several days. 

“While I strongly believe that completing this process would result in me advancing to the general election, it is clear that there are significant deficiencies in the process itself which make continuing the recount problematic,” Pérez said in a statement Friday.


Under California law, whoever asks for the recount has to pay for the process, and Pérez was burning through thousands of dollars in campaign cash each day.

At the same time, he was stirring discontent within the Democratic Party. Though Pérez supporters said the recount was worthwhile in such a closely contested primary, others hoped he would throw in the towel and allow Yee to focus on campaigning against Ashley Swearengin, the Republican mayor of Fresno and the other candidate in the general election. 

Democrats have already begun to line up behind Yee, and the party provided a $50,000 donation to her campaign one week ago.

Pérez had originally planned to expand the recount to San Bernardino County on Monday, then 12 other counties, which would have made it the largest recount in California history. The process has been widely described as unfair by both participants and observers, who say the state needs a new system for automatic, taxpayer-funded recounts in close races.


Right now, recounts are funded by candidates and campaign donors who can pick and choose the counties where they want ballots to receive closer scrutiny.

“California needs to rethink our approach and incorporate best practices from across the nation," Pérez said in his Friday statement.


Follow @chrismegerian for more updates from Sacramento.