McClintock edges out Brown " for now | SierraSun.com

McClintock edges out Brown " for now

David Mirhadi
Sierra News Service

AP PhotoState Sen. Tom McClintock, the Republican candidate for the 4th Congressional District, hugs supporter Sheila Conner, at his election night party in Roseville, Calif., Tuesday. McClintock is in a tight race against Democrat Charlie Brown.

Republican Tom McClintock narrowly defeated Democrat Charlie Brown for the 4th Congressional District seat in preliminary results, but some mail ballots remain to be counted.

At 2:43 a.m., McClintock received 155,771 votes (50.1 percent), compared with 155,320 (49.9 percent) for Brown, according to calculations provided the California Secretary of State with 100 percent of precincts reporting. In Nevada County alone, however, an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 mail ballots have not yet been counted.

The mail ballots were handed in at precincts or the county Election Office Tuesday but remain to be counted in a time-consuming process that could last through the end of the week.

This means the outcome of the race could change. The race for the district, which includes Nevada County, is one of the most closely watched Congressional campaigns nationwide.

McClintock and Brown jockeyed for position much of the night, with each candidate coming into the lead at different times. In Nevada County, Brown beat McClintock, just as he defeated John Doolittle two years ago. But the district also encompasses El Dorado, Lassen, Modoc, Placer, Plumas and Sierra counties, and parts of Butte and Sacramento counties ” a large pocket of conservative voters.

“We think we’re in good shape,” McClintock spokesman Bill George said. “It’s tracking our polling, and it looks like we’re going to win.” McClintock briefly visited Nevada County on Election Day, stopping at the Republican Party headquarters.

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Brown made a brief appearance Monday at Democratic headquarters in Nevada City.

Brown spokesman Todd Stenhouse said, “It’s too close to call. We’re going to make sure that every last vote is counted.”

Though Brown handily won Nevada County, he was narrowly losing in Placer County, where Republican voters outpoll Democrats by a wide margin. Throughout the district, Republicans hold a 15 percentage point voter registration advantage over Democrats.

“We’re going to take a large number of votes that aren’t in yet,” George said. “These are the votes that we think will really propel us.”

Despite that disadvantage, Brown, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who has focused on veterans issues, had predicted the race for the seat would be close.

Some political pundits had considered the race a toss-up in the final days: In 2006, Brown lost the seat by a slim margin to Doolittle, who won with 49 percent of the vote.

McClintock, a former candidate for governor and other state offices, does not live in the district he represents. He is a state senator from Thousand Oaks, though his family resides in Elk Grove, south of Sacramento.

He campaigned on a platform of core Republican values, contending that his place of residence doesn’t matter to supporters.

The conservative district was left open when nine-term Congressman Doolittle stepped down amid a lobbying scandal that has dragged on for more than three years.

McClintock is well-known among California Republicans from a series of failed statewide races, including for governor in the 2003 recall, and 22 years in the Legislature.

Supporters cite his staunch opposition to taxes and the expansion of government spending. He tried to portray Brown as a liberal “yes man” for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco.

Brown, helped by spending from the national Democratic Party, called McClintock a career politician who was shopping the state for a new job and had abused the perks of his office.

To contact Staff Writer David Mirhadi, e-mail dmirhadi@theunion.com or call 477-4239.