By Arturo Castañares
(Story updated March 8, 2020 @ 5:01 pm)
Super Tuesday brought many national and local races into more clear focus and gave some candidates huge boosts while clearing the field of many others, but two races are still too close to call. As of Friday evening, 250,000, absentee and provisional ballots still remained to be counted, and it may take up to 30 days for final results to be reported
At the top of the ticket, Democratic candidates for president flipped positions as former Vice-President Joe Biden overtook Vermont US Senator Bernie Sanders as the front runner for the nomination after 18 states have now voted.
Before Tuesday, many anticipated that Biden would build on the momentum he gained after winning Saturday’s primary in South Carolina and that he would begin to narrow the delegate count gap with Sanders.
By late Tuesday night, it was clear, however, that Biden had surpassed expectations and won the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas, Tennesee, and Virginia.
Meanwhile, Sanders won his home state of Vermont, as well as Utah, and Colorado, and leads Biden by 10 points in California, which has the most delegates to award.
At the end of Tuesday night, with California still counting ballots that could take several more days or weeks to complete, Biden leads the delegate race with 415 to Sanders’ 369.
Two other top-tier candidates underperformed on Tuesday.
Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City, spent an estimated $500 million of his own money and ended up winning only 9 delegates. The only contest he won was American Samoa, where he gained 4 delegates, and earned the rest in California, Colorado, Texas, and Utah where he garnered at nearly 15% of the vote to qualify for proportional delegates.
But Bloomberg failed to convince voters that he was the viable compromise candidate that could emerge to beat Donald Trump in November. On Wednesday morning, Bloomberg suspended his campaign and endorsed Biden.
The other underperformer of the night was Massachusetts US Senator Elizbeth Warren that lost even her own home state where she came in third place to Biden and Sanders, respectively. Warren came in fourth in both California and Texas where she didn’t break the 15% threshold to earn delegates. She finished the night with only 20 delegates in total. Pressure will surely mount for Warren to drop out of the race and endorse Sanders. She is more ideologically aligned with Sanders than Biden, and her support among women could help Sanders expand his base beyond his very enthusiastic core of young and Latino voters.
Lastly, Hawai’i Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard came in second in American Samoa and earned just one delegate during all of the primaries.
Three candidates that dropped out of the race in recent days and endorsed Biden over the weekend and Monday may have helped him consolidate support; Pete Buttigieg, Tom Steyer, and Amy Klobuchar.
Klobuchar’s endorsement seems to have helped Biden win her state of Minnesota because exit polls showed that many voters that made their decision to vote for Biden in recent days had a favorable impression of Klobuchar.
Another recent endorsement that most likely helped Biden was that of former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke who joined Biden at an event in Dallas on Monday night. O’Rourke also ran for president but dropped out in November. He remains very popular in his hometown of El Paso, Texas.
50th District: In East County, the race to replace disgraced former Congressman Duncan Hunter looks like it will be a run-off in November between Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar and former Republican Congressman Darrell Issa. Campa-Najjar ran two years ago against Hunter and lost in the General Election, but returned this year to challenge Hunter before Hunter later resigned after being indicted and pleading guilty to campaign finance violations. Hunter resigned in early January, but a special election was not called so the seat has remained vacant.
Issa, who represented a moderate North County congressional district in Congress from 2000 to 2018 before retiring from Congress, decided to run in the much more Republican-leaning 53rd this year. Campa Najjar is leading Issa 35.9% to 23.2%. Former San Diego City Councilman and radio talk show host Carl DeMaio was in third place late Saturday night, running 3,092 votes behind Issa. DeMaio lost his campaign for San Diego Mayor in 2012, and The district is heavily Republican-leaning, as all of the Republicans in the race received a combined 65% of the vote.
51st District: Congressman Juan Vargas was leading Juan Hidalgo, Jr. by a margin of 70% to 30%, and the two will run again in November. Vargas was first elected in 2012.
53rd District: 15 candidates sought to replace retiring Congresswoman Susan Davis. Democrats Sara Jacobs and San Diego City Council President Georgette Gomez looked to be headed to a November runoff as Jacobs led Gomez by a margin of 29.6% to 19.9%. Jacobs, grand-daughter of Qualcomm founder Irwin Jacobs, ran and lost two years ago in a North County district but changed to the 53rd after Davis announced her retirement. Davis was first elected to Congress in 2000.
52nd District: Congressman Scott Peters will face businessman Jim DeBello in November. Peters led DeBello 48.4% to 35.7% in what is usually a hotly contested seat. Peters was first elected in 2012.
Too close to call: San Diego County Supervisor Greg Cox’s upcoming retirement from District 1 this year after 25 years in office lead eight candidates to run for the open seat. California State Senator Ben Hueso led San Diego Port Commissioner Rafa Castellanos by a 30.4% to 16.9% gap on Tuesday night, but Castellanos has now fallen to third-place after Southwestern College Board Member Nora Vargas picked up votes during the week as outstanding ballots were counted by the Registrar of Voters and leads by 153 votes. The vote gap is still within a margin too close to call. Vargas had trailed Castellanos by 110 votes earlier in the week. Only the top two voter getters will go on to the General Election in November.
In District 2, former State Senator Joel Anderson led Poway Mayor Steve Vaus by a 37.5% to 32.8% margin Tuesday night. Both will fight it out in November. The seat is being vacated this year by Supervisor Diane Jacob which has held the seat since 1994.
County Supervisor Kristin Gaspar is running for re-election in District 3 and was leading first-time candidate Terra Lawson-Remer by a 44.3% to 31% margin. In third place was Oceanside Councilmember Olga Diaz at 23.9%. The top two will go on to the General Election in November. Gaspar was first elected in 2016.
Too close to call: The final candidates in the race for San Diego Mayor were still too close to call the morning after the election as State Assemblyman Todd Gloria lead all candidate with 41.5% of the vote, San Diego City Councilman Scott Sherman was second with 24.6%, and San Diego City Councilwoman Barabra Bry was 2,019 votes behind Sherman. After Saturday’s vote count update, Sherman still holds second place but the gap has fallen to only 1,701 votes. Sherman and Bry are so close that remaining ballots could change the outcome so the race is too close to call. Bry has narrowed the gap on each report that has been issued this week. Only the top two voter getters will head to the runoff in November to replace outgoing Mayor Kevin Faulconer.
San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliott is running for re-election, and lead two candidates with 67% of the vote, and local attorney Cory Briggs was in second with 24.1%. That race will also be decided in November.
Chula Vista Councilmembers Steve Padilla and Mike Diaz comfortably lead in their respective districts with each receiving more than 50% of the vote, but a recent rule change now forces the top two candidates in each district to a run-off election in November. Padilla will face Henry A. Martinez II in District 3, and Diaz will compete against Andrea Cardenas in District 4.
San Diego County Registrar of Voters Michael Vu estimates that final vote total will not be available for nearly a month as last-minute absentee and provisional ballots are counted by hand.
The Registrar will release daily vote count updates at 5:00 pm every day until all votes are counted, which could be sometime around March 18. The Registrar has 30 days to certify the final election results.