By GUY KOVNER
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Democrat Norman Solomon has closed within about 600 votes of Republican Dan Roberts, leaving their race for second place in the North Coast congressional district undecided two weeks after the June 5 primary election.
Whoever eventually claims the second spot will face Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, in a November run-off to fill the vacancy left by retiring Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma.
With two weeks to go before the final results must be certified, Solomon has cut the 1,397-vote election night distance behind Roberts by more than half.
The number of uncounted ballots in Sonoma, Marin and Humboldt counties remains uncertain, but the largest portion appears to be in Sonoma, where officials expect to complete the count by Tuesday.
Final results have been posted in Mendocino, Del Norte and Trinity counties, the three smallest counties in the new 2nd Congressional District.
“This like a drip torture,” said Roberts, a political newcomer from Tiburon who largely financed his own campaign with a $160,000 loan.
With a 596-vote lead over Solomon, Roberts said he is “in a wait and hope mode,” still confident of success despite his shrinking advantage.
Solomon, a liberal activist and author from West Marin, said has was “cautiously optimistic.”
Huffman, who dominated the primary with 37.3 percent of the vote, likely would overwhelm Roberts in a runoff, based on the Democrats’ better than 2-to-1 advantage over Republicans in district voter registration.
Huffman and seven other Democrats collectively had 75 percent of the primary vote.
A runoff between Democrats Huffman and Solomon, the product of California’s first statewide use of the top two primary system, would be a sharp intra-party skirmish.
Tom Higgins, Solomon’s political consultant, said he is confident that Solomon will overtake Roberts, noting that a 1 percent difference on election night is down to 0.39 percent.
Marin County had about 2,000 uncounted votes, while Humboldt had 6,468, according to the counties’ reports on Tuesday. Roberts trails Solomon in Marin County, but outpolled him by about 300 votes in Humboldt.
Sonoma County, where Solomon is ahead by Roberts by about 300 votes, has 25,350 uncounted ballots and is not issuing updates on the tally nor any estimate of how many of those votes are in the 2nd District, said Gloria Colter, assistant registrar of voters.
Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park, Cotati and Sonoma Valley are not in the district.