Vidak_wins_16th_district_seat_602270000_418550_ver1.0_640_480The following comes from a July 24 story on Fresno’s KFSN TV station website.

The hotly contested race for an open State Senate seat in the Valley is leaning Republican Wednesday morning.

As of Wednesday morning, with 100 percent of precincts reporting, Republican Andy Vidak is out in front with 54 percent of the vote, while Democrat Leticia Perez has 46 percent.

But the race is still too early to call. Even though all precincts have reported, thousands of late absentee and provisional ballots will have to be counted — meaning a final result may not be known for at least a couple of days.

Democrats hope to hold the seat to protect their super-majority status in the state senate — prompting a flood of campaign contributions and a flurry of negative ads.

Republican Andy Vidak, a cherry farmer, won just shy of 50 percent of the vote in the May primary, sparking the runoff against Perez — a Kern County supervisor. Although she’s trailing at the polls in the special election Wednesday morning, she told Action News she is optimistic she will win the race.

Perez’ campaign manager said he expects her to close the spread after Fresno County fully reports and the late ballots are counted.

But both said the gap appears to be narrowing as returns are being tallied.

“It is to be expected with early ballots in from Kings County, but we know so many counties and precincts in Kern have not yet been counted. The same is true about Fresno where our strongest support is,” said Leticia Perez, (D) State Senate Candidate.

“We are still cautiously optimistic it’s not over until it’s over,” said Andy Vidak (R), State Senate Candidate, “We are just cautiously optimistic we have run a very good campaign and common sense has no party lines we will just see how it turns out.”

At Vidak’s election party at his ranch near Hanford Tuesday night, Vidak said the trends are also looking good for him.

County clerks in Fresno, Kings, Tulare and Kern counties now have to count the provisional ballots and the absentee ballots turned in at the polls on election day before declaring a winner. That process could take several days, or even weeks.

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