Final vote count confirms runoff election needed for state senate seat

It’s official: Republican Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee finished first in the June 22 special primary election held to pick a successor to Abel Maldonado. But Blakeslee did not take more than 50 percent of the vote, which means another election has to occur Aug. 17.

These results have been generally known for a few days, and the candidates have been negotiating a time and place for debates. But the Secretary of State’s office did not certify the results until Wednesday.

With all precincts reporting, Blakeslee took 72,248 votes, or 49.40 percent. Democrat John Laird had 61,150 votes, or 41.81 percent. Jim Fitzgerald of Nipomo, who does not belong to a political party, took 8,620 votes, or 5.89 percent. And Libertarian Mark Hinkle of Morgan Hill took 4,241 votes, or 2.90 percent.

All four will be on the Aug. 17 ballot.

The district spans five counties: Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, and Monterey.

Blakeslee, who won by nearly 11,000 votes district-wide, won by almost 19,000 votes in the counties he represents in the Assembly –Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo. Laird, who hails from Santa Cruz, failed to catch up in his home counties of Santa Cruz and Monterey.

The seat became vacant when Maldonado resigned in May, halfway through his term, to accept his appointment as Lieutenant Governor by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

-Bob Cuddy