Early results in the race for California’s 35th Assembly District show incumbent Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham headed to re-election over Democratic challenger Bill Ostrander.
With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Cunningham led Ostrander 58.6 percent to 41.4 percent, according to a round of California Secretary of State results released at 7:15 a.m. Wednesday.
The district represents San Luis Obispo County — where the county Clerk-Recorder’s Office showed early mail-in votes favoring Cunningham 56.8 percent to 43.1 percent — as well as the northern Santa Barbara County communities of Santa Maria, Guadalupe, and Lompoc. The Santa Barbara County Clerk-Recorder’s Office showed Cunningham ahead there 65.6 percent to 34.3 percent, with 40 percent of precincts reporting.
The district represents about 485,000 residents.
At his election night event at the San Luis Obispo County Republican Party headquarters in Atascadero, Cunningham was surrounded by a crowd of roughly 100 supporters — including San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow and former Central Coast Assemblywoman Andrea Seastrand — when the initial results came in.
Shortly after the second round of results confirmed his double-digit lead, Cunningham said in a telephone interview that he felt great about his “very solid” numbers.
“I’m honored,” Cunningham said, noting there was a “high level of excitement” at the Republican headquarters. “I think voters responded to my record and to my priorities that I discussed during the campaign.”
Cunningham said he wanted to thank the majority of voters for their trust, and said, should the numbers hold, that he looks forward to continuing to work as a “bipartisan voice” in the Assembly.
He also said he wanted to thank his dozens of volunteers who he said manned two phone banks and made some 100,000 get-out-the-vote calls in the last 24 hours.
Cunningham, a former San Luis Obispo County Deputy District Attorney who currently runs a criminal and civil law practice with his wife in Templeton, was elected to the seat in November 2016, defeating Democratic activist Dawn Ortiz-Legg 54.7 percent to 45.3 percent.
Cunningham succeeded termed-out Republican Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian, who that year made an unsuccessful bid for the 24th Congressional District.
Ostrander, an actor, activist, and co-founder of the campaign finance-focused nonprofit Citizen’s Congress, is known locally for his fight for campaign finance reform, including lobbying for publicly funded elections in the city of San Luis Obispo and leading the local dialogue against big-money interests in politics.
In the June primary election this year — in which the only two candidates automatically advanced — Cunningham gathered 55 percent of the vote.
Cunningham outraised Ostrander more than 6 to 1, raising a total of roughly $840,767 and spending about $962,573 in the race as of Oct. 20, according to campaign disclosure reports. His campaign enjoyed both heavy corporate, union, and Republican Party financial support.
Ostrander, whose campaign received donations from the California Democratic Party, raised just $130,484 and spent about $140,120 during the election cycle as of Oct. 20, according to finance reports.
Check back here for more updates on the race throughout the night.