The recount is finally over, and state Sen. Melissa Hurtado will remain in office.
After calls to concede earlier in the day from the Hurtado campaign, David Shepard announced he is through with the recount.
“This race has been historically close and as the recount draws towards the end, I believe our path forward to victor is no longer feasible,” Shepard R-Porterville, said in a news release.
The capitulation ends the election drama unsettled since the Nov. 8 election. The leader seemed to flip with every election return in the ensuing weeks until Hurtado, D-Bakersfield, pulled ahead and was certified the winner on Dec. 16 by 20 votes out of nearly 137,000 ballots cast.
The race was so close, Hurtado was not seated by the Constitutionally-mandated start of the new term on Dec. 5. She took her oath of office five days later.
Earlier on Wednesday, Hurtado’s campaign consultant called on Shepard to give up.
“It’s time for David Shepard to admit the race is over,” Hurtado’s campaign consultant, Lisa Gasperoni, said in a news release. “Shepard’s ongoing attempts to undermine the will of the voters and change the outcome of the election to his personal benefit are becoming more and more desperate.”
Shepard, in a text to GV Wire, complained more about who called for him to concede, rather than the substance of the statement.
Hurtado Maintained Lead
Hurtado, D-Bakersfield, won Senate District 16 — comprising all or parts of Kern, Tulare, Kings, and Fresno counties. Shepard, R-Porterville, requested a recount.
If the recount changed the results, Shepard would have replaced Hurtado in the Senate.
The count has switched with Shepard picking up nine net votes to reduce the lead to 13. That is not enough to overturn the election, and will not be reflected in the official vote count.
All four counties have concluded their preliminary counts. A breakdown of the recount results:
- Fresno County: Shepard +3;
- Kings County: Shepard +2;
- Tulare County: Shepard +3;
- Kern County: After Hurtado picked up +2 after a second certification — four uncounted ballots were added, breaking 3-1 for Hurtado — Shepard picked up +1.
Shepard indicated he might take legal action in Kings County, but decided against litigation.
Shepard Criticizes Election Counting
Shepard criticized the recount process.
“During the recount, we uncovered blatant mismanagement and inconsistencies of vote counting procedures in multiple counties, which excluded numerous voters from having their votes counted in this election. Violation of the basic constitutional rights upon which our democracy is founded can change election results,” Shepard said.
Shepard promised a summary of the findings in the coming weeks, “to explicate the failures of the Elections Code and of several county officials and their elections offices. This process has brought to light that greater accountability to our local county elections office is vitally necessary to preserve free and fair elections.”