Republican Mark Pazin conceded victory to Democrat Esmeralda Soria in their bruising battle for the open 27th District Assembly seat on Monday afternoon.
As of Monday afternoon, Soria, D-Fresno, leads for the seat— covering parts of Merced, Madera and Fresno counties — by 2,050 votes, or 2.4% over Pazin, R-Merced.
“I would like to congratulate Esmeralda Soria on her win as she becomes the Assemblymember-elect for District 27,” Pazin in an email to supporters. “While we may disagree on many policies and the direction of California, I hope she will serve in the same bipartisan fashion as our outgoing Assemblymember Adam Gray.”
Gray, a Merced Democrat, is in a close battle of his own against Modesto Republican John Duarte for the 13th District seat in the House of Representatives. According to the latest count, Duarte, a farmer, leads with 50.3% of the vote to Gray’s 49.7%.
Pazin, a former Merced County sheriff, said Monday that he conceded to Soria, a Fresno city councilmember, after analyzing the voting trend of the ballots still to be counted.
“It’s been nearly two weeks since Election Day and my opponent and I remain separated by roughly 2,000 votes. Tens of thousands of ballots have been cast in our Assembly race with a few thousand more to count. Unfortunately, it does not appear that we have a path forward based on current trends.”
His status as former sheriff did not help. He trails by 4% in returns from his home Merced County.
Soria: I Will Work With Both Parties to Lift up Valley
Soria declared victory in a news release.
“I am humbled to have the opportunity to fight for you and bring resources home to keep our communities safe and healthy, tackle the housing crisis, create good-paying jobs here at home, and expand educational opportunities for our young people,” Soria said. “I am dedicated to having an open door and I will work with anyone from any party or background to deliver for our Valley.”
“I also want to thank my opponent, Mark Pazin, for a hard-fought race and his congratulatory call. I look forward to working with him.”
Could Perea Start Early?
Soria would be sworn-in to the Assembly on Dec. 5, even though it is before the deadlines for counties to finalize tallies and the state to certify the election (Dec. 9 and 16 respectively).
If Soria leaves the Fresno City Council early — only one elected seat can be represented at a time — it would create a vacancy on the dais, at least until Jan. 3 when Annalisa Perea is sworn in to replace Soria. Perea secured her election bid to succeed Soria in District 1 (west Fresno/Tower District) last June.
The Fresno City Council has the option — found in the city charter (Sec. 305 (d))— to appoint someone, in this case for 29 days.
If that is the option the City Council chooses, it makes sense giving Perea a head start. There is nothing in the charter indicating a minimum waiting period before the appointment is made.
“There’s been discussions but nothing finalized at this point,” Perea texted Politics 101.
Only one City Council meeting is scheduled in the potential interim period, on Dec. 15.
Bill McEwen contributed to this story.