More than 17,700 ballots still need to be counted in state senate race

Sam Blakeslee still could win the battle for state senate outright, according to the numbers, but it’s unlikely.

As of Wednesday morning, roughly 17,783 provisional and absentee ballots remained to be counted in the five counties in the 15th state Senate District: San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Monterey, and Santa Clara.

Republican Blakeslee’s unofficial margin of victory over Democrat John Laird after yesterday’s election was 11,037, according to the Secretary of State.

But Blakeslee would have to take 52 percent of the outstanding ballots, according to a Tribune analysis. He had 49 percent Tuesday night.

The more probable scenario is a continued fight for the seat, vacated in May when Abel Maldonado left it halfway through his term to accept appointment as lieutenant governor.

Blakeslee a former minority leader in the Assembly, and Laird, former chairman of the Assembly budget committee, also will face Independent Jim Fitzgerald of Nipomo and Libertarian Mark Hinkle of Morgan Hill.

Hinkle and Fitzgerald acted as spoilers Tuesday, taking three and six percent of the vote, respectively, which kept the better-financed Laird and Blakeslee from winning outright Tuesday.

Blakeslee, who hails from San Luis Obispo, and Laird, from Santa Cruz, were preparing Tuesday night to go forward with a runoff.