Clovis News

Larson may face runoff against Sterling

Fresno County election officials have a month to certify Tuesday's election, and it might take every one of those days to determine the outcome in the District 1 county supervisor's race.

There's no doubt the incumbent, Phil Larson, will win, and win by a comfortable margin over challengers Cynthia Sterling and Gabriel Cervantes. The question is, will Larson be able to capture just over 50% of the vote?

Right now, he is 13 votes shy of the needed majority.

If Larson fails to reach the majority, he will face a November runoff against Sterling, who is currently in second place.

"I'm confident that we can do it," Larson said Wednesday.

Larson compared his position to where he stood eight years ago. The day after the election, he and opponent Dan Ronquillo both sat around the 49% mark. It took a month, but the outstanding absentee votes carried Larson to victory.

Fresno County Clerk Victor Salazar estimates there are 15,000 to 20,000 absentee and provisional ballots remaining to be counted across the county.

Should Larson lose his re-election bid, it would change the dynamic of the five-member board, local observers said.

Currently, Larson and fellow members Judy Case and Debbie Poochigian have formed a solid conservative bloc. If Sterling replaced Larson, political watchers say, she would likely find common ground with supervisors Henry R. Perea and Susan Anderson.

It would likely be a more union-friendly board.

And that worries Republicans such as Michael Der Manouel Jr., chairman of the Fresno County Lincoln Club.

If Sterling wins, "you might as well just file the county for bankruptcy," Der Manouel said, because of the power the unions would have.

Larson has a huge fundraising advantage over Sterling, with $161,000 in reserve as of late May, compared to $11,000 for Sterling. But Sterling received the endorsement of the Service Employees International Union, which targeted Larson with ads and mailers.

"I think Phil's got a race is what he's got," said former Supervisor Bob Waterston. He noted a runoff could show Larson is potentially vulnerable and embolden unions who want to oust him.

"If the unions smell any kind of blood at all, they are going to put a ton of money into [Sterling's] race," he said.

SEIU officials did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Dictos wins -- for now

Fresno County Assessor candidate Paul Dictos has run for just about everything in the county, and without much success.

He lost twice in 2008 -- once for county supervisor and also for the Clovis Memorial District. He's also run for county auditor-controller, a State Center Community College District board seat, and made an earlier unsuccessful Clovis Memorial District run.

But Dictos, an accountant, is still standing after Tuesday's election. He received the most votes in the assessor's race and will face off this November against second place finisher Carole Laval, an appraiser.

Local boy makes good

Bullard High School graduate Lawrence Beliz captured the American Independent party nomination for state controller and moves to the general election as a long-shot candidate against Democratic incumbent John Chiang and GOP nominee Tony Strickland, a state senator. Beliz now lives in Vista.

And another not so good

Meantime, Fresno's Edward Streichman, a tax auditor at the Board of Equalization, lost his long-shot bid for the GOP nomination for the District 2 seat on the board, which was won by state lawmaker George Runner.

In Tulare County

Two races are still too close to call.

Roland Hill has a 1,070-vote lead over Ron Medlock in the race for assessor. Hill is not claiming victory because the Tulare County Election Division reports more than 14,000 ballots remain to be counted.

In the District 5 supervisor race, incumbent Mike Ennis clung to an 83-vote lead over Porterville Council Member Cameron Hamilton.

Kings County sheriff

Craig Robinson, 39, denied incumbent Sheriff Chris Jordan, 56, a second term. Rank and file law enforcement in Kings County backed Robinson, a sheriff's investigator.

Kings County DA

Former District Attorney Greg Strickland defeated incumbent Ron Calhoun, reversing the outcome in 1998 when Calhoun defeated Strickland.

30th Assembly District

Pete Parra conceded the Democratic primary race in the early morning hours Wednesday against Fran Florez, who will take on Republican David Valadao, a dairyman from Hanford. Both parties have a shot at the seat, so the race will likely get statewide attention. Pete Parra's daughter, Nicole Parra, who has long feuded with state Sen. Dean Florez, suggested her father would not be endorsing Fran Florez, Dean Florez's mother. "I don't see any Parra endorsing a Florez in this election," Nicole Parra said.

16th state Senate

Dinuba real estate agent Tim Thiesen held a narrow lead over former state lawmaker Phil Wyman for the GOP nomination, but there were still ballots outstanding.

"At this moment in time we consider ourselves the presumptive nominee," said Thiesen aide Michael Babowal. "We're just cautiously optimistic."

Wyman could not be reached for comment. The winner faces Democrat Michael Rubio, a Kern County supervisor, in the Democrat-leaning district.

Assembly 25th District

Modesto City Council Member Kristin Olsen came out ahead in a six-way GOP contest and declared victory on Facebook: "Hooray! We've done it," she wrote. The heavily Republican district includes parts of Madera County.