OAKLAND -- The race to fill an empty judge's chair on the Alameda County bench came to a surprising end late Monday after a final vote count by the Registrar of Voters gave Tara Flanagan the win.
Preliminary results just after election day showed that Flanagan and Andrew Wiener were destined for a runoff election in November as the former Los Angeles County prosecutor had just barely failed to gain more than 50 percent of the vote.
But, a majority of ballots counted since initial results were posted favored Flanagan and pushed her total vote count to 50.8 percent. Those votes came from provisional ballots and mail-in ballots that were handed in on Election Day.
"(I) am absolutely thrilled to win outright in June," Flanagan said. "Now I can get to the business of winding down my practice and taking the bench rather then spending the next five months campaigning."
Flanagan credited her campaign staff and endorsements she received from key labor and environmental groups for the win. Flanagan also racked up the most endorsements of any of the three candidates from sitting Alameda County judges.
Wiener, however, said he is not ready yet to concede the race and wants to wait until the race is officially certified by the county.
"At the moment, in light of what appears a relatively few votes, I am just going to have to wait for the election to be verified," Wiener said. "It's already been adjusted twice since Friday."
Dave MacDonald, the county's Registrar of Voters, said his office has counted all ballots but is currently hand-counting ballots, known as the postelectionï»¿ audit, from 1 percent of the county's 1,004 precincts to ensure they were counted correctly. Results from the manual hand count are expected either Wednesday or Thursday. MacDonald said he has never seen results from the postelection audit change the final ballot count.
Those results give Flanagan, who earned 92,496 votes, a more than 38,000 vote advantage over Wiener and 1,362 votes above the more than 50 percent of the vote threshold needed to avoid a runoff. Wiener earned 54,452 votes and the third candidate in the race, Catherine Haley, earned 33,922 votes. Almost 1,400 voters decided to write in a candidate.
Flanagan said she is confident the election is over and that she won by more than 50 percent of the vote. Even if Wiener requests a recount, Flanagan said she is confident she will win.
"We are not talking about a handful of votes," Flanagan said as she pointed out that she is more than 1,300 votes above the 50 percent plus one threshold. "I'm not concerned."
Flanagan's outright win came as a surprise since it came despite a field of three candidates on a down ticket race in a low-turnout election.