Local Election

Gubler moves into second in hotly contested Assembly race, but will it hold up?

Visalia Mayor Warren Gubler
Visalia Mayor Warren Gubler

Update: At 5:24 p.m. Monday, the latest election results moved Jose Sigala ahead of Warren Gubler, 13,008 votes to 12,698. Devon Mathis leads with 13,410.

Visalia Mayor Warren Gubler made up a nearly 300-vote deficit to overtake Tulare City Councilman Jose Sigala for a runoff spot against incumbent Devon Mathis in California's 26th Assembly District, unofficial election results posted Monday show.

Gubler, a Republican, was 12 votes ahead of Sigala, a Democrat. As of Monday morning, both had exactly 29 percent of the vote with 12,260 and 12,248 votes, respectively. Mathis led the pack with 12,789 votes, or 30.3 percent.

However, this tight margin may not hold up by July 5, when election results must be certified.

The numbers were fluid even on Monday. The Inyo County Elections office said it would update its vote counts by 5 p.m. Monday. Although voter registration in Inyo leans Republican by an 11-point margin, Sigala was well ahead of the pack at midday Monday with 1,998 votes due to three Republicans – Mathis (1,420), Gubler (1,040) and Jack Lavers (960) – splitting the GOP vote.

Gubler outraised the field and secured the endorsement of the Tulare County Republican Party. This is nothing new for Mathis, however, who beat back the heavily supported Republican Rudy Mendoza in 2014 and 2016.

As a wave of lawsuits and disciplinary action moves through the California Assembly as part of the #MeToo movement, Mathis has been hit with a lawsuit alleging harassment, bullying and sexism in his office.

Mathis said there was no credence to the claims, which were made by his former district director Janie Sustaita, adding that the Assembly had already investigated the accusations and cleared him of wrongdoing.