Harman defeats Harkey by 236 votes

April 14, 2006|By Alicia Robinson

Final unofficial results from the Orange County Registrar of Voters, with 723 precincts reporting:

Republican Tom Harman: 37,840 votes; 38.8%

Republican Diane Harkey: 37,604 votes; 38.5%

Democrat Larry Caballero: 22,176 votes; 22.7% Two days after the polls closed, Republican Huntington Beach Assemblyman Tom Harman was named the Republican nominee for the 35th District state Senate seat, by 236 votes.

But GOP opponent Dana Point City Councilwoman Diane Harkey said she will request a recount, so the special primary election saga isn't over yet.


"We will be asking for a recount," she said after the results were announced Thursday by the Orange County Registrar of Voters. She said the thin margin warrants a recount. "We owe it to the people who supported me."

And Harman isn't quite ready to celebrate.

"I'm going to wait till they certify the results," he said.

Acting Registrar Neal Kelley said he expects to certify the election results today. Once that happens, a recount can officially be requested.

Harkey, Harman and Democratic candidate Larry Cabellero are seeking the vacant 35th District state Senate seat, which represents 513,832 voters in Costa Mesa, Newport Beach and other Orange County cities.

Because none of the candidates received more than 50% of Tuesday's votes, the winning Republican will face Caballero ? who took 22.7% of the votes cast ? on the June 6 ballot.

The next senator will serve a term that ends in 2008.

With nearly 10,000 provisional and absentee ballots still uncounted Tuesday night, no GOP winner was declared. Thursday was like double overtime, with observers from both Republican candidates' camps looking on as provisional ballots were checked for validity and then tallied.

In the campaign, Harman, 64, touted his experience of nearly six years in the Assembly and six years as a Huntington Beach city councilman. But as a state legislator, he alienated some of the Orange County GOP establishment, and he found himself defending his voting record.

Harkey, 54, billed herself as the conservative choice in the election and spun her newness to politics ? about a year on the Dana Point City Council ? as not being a career politician.

Both candidates named immigration and taxes as key issues, but those issues apparently didn't move too many voters. Fewer than 20% of the district's registered voters cast ballots.

Kelley said the low turnout is "pretty typical of a special election where you have one item on the ballot."

It's not clear how long a recount might take because it could be done in various ways, such as a by-hand recount of some precincts or a full recount by machine, Kelley said.

Harman said he's not concerned about Harkey's request for a recount.

"The process used to count the ballots is extremely reliable, and it would be extremely difficult to make up the number of votes they would have to make up," he said.

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