Hurtado Claims Victory Over Shepard in State Senate Recount - GV Wire - Explore. Explain. Expose
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Hurtado Claims Victory Over Shepard in State Senate Recount

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Melissa Hurtado, left, is declaring victory in a recount for state Senate District 16. (GV Wire Composite/David Rodriguez)
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Even though two counties continue recounting votes in state Senate District 16, incumbent Melissa Hurtado is claiming victory.

“While both our campaigns have requested the review of additional election materials, it is clear the recount process will not change the certified winner, Melissa Hurtado,” Lisa Gasperoni, Hurtado’s campaign consultant, said in a news release.

Hurtado, D-Bakersfield, won by a 20 vote margin after the state certified the election Dec. 16. Kern County discovered four more ballots in the district after certification. That count netted two votes for Hurtado, to expand her lead to 22.

Recounting in the four counties that comprise Senate District 16 netted Shepard, R-Porterville, eight votes, whittling Hurtado’s lead to 14. That is not enough to overturn the election.

“Mr. Shepard can continue to drag out the process with no plausible pathway to claiming the lead or sue local election officials in counties he previously praised because they failed to produce the outcome he wanted. Mr. Shepard’s other option is to respect the voters in reflecting that close elections, while never easy, eventually must come to an end,” Gasperoni said.

The race was one of the closest in the history of the state Legislature, with Hurtado winning by seven-thousandths of a percent among the nearly 137,000 ballots cast.

Recount Latest

Tulare County finished its count of votes and challenges to invalid signatures. On Thursday, a manual inspection of votes eliminated one Hurtado vote. The ballot showed that a mark for Hurtado was crossed out.

Previous recount results saw Fresno County net three more votes for Shepard; Kings County — two for Shepard; no change in Kern County; and with the update from Tulare County, three net votes for Shepard.

After Tulare finished Thursday, it received a hand-written request from Shepard campaign advisor Austin Gilbert to manually inspect the ballots. That process will start Monday.

Hurtado also requested a recount in Kern County, after they completed Shepard’s request to inspect only a portion of ballots in that county. Kern County says they are separating the ballots, and a recount will start next week.

A handwritten request to extend the recount from the Shepard campaign. (Special to GV Wire)

Hurtado Sworn-In

Hurtado was sworn into office on Dec. 10, five days after the date set by the state Constitution for the start of the Senate session. Senate Pro Team Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, cited the closeness of the race and the fact the race had not been certified, as reasons for the delay.

The Senate resumed this week, and Hurtado has already introduced a new bill, State Water Accountability Act (SB 66).

“We need to be sure we can depend on the accuracy of the data the State is using to make water decisions to ensure that people don’t have to go without water needlessly. I am anticipating results from an audit of the state’s data reliability collection tools this spring, and hope it leads us towards more robust water accountability,” Hurtado said in a news release about SB 66.

Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email

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