Senate: Wilk, Mueller race less than 1% close contest

Sacramento, State Capitol Building
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After falling behind in the polls throughout Tuesday night, incumbent state Sen. Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, picked up momentum ahead of Democratic opponent Kipp Mueller, but only by a slight margin, as vote counts continued to come in. 

As of noon Wednesday, Wilk led with 50.1% of the vote or 136,296 votes, while Mueller fell just behind with 49.9% (135,743) with 100% of the precincts reporting, according to the California Secretary of State. 

In L.A. County, however, Mueller kept the lead from Tuesday night with 50.54% (106,816) of the vote. Wilk had garnered 49.46% (104,542) as of Wednesday evening. The 21st Senate District also includes portions of San Bernardino County.

When the first figures began to drop, Mueller held a strong lead ahead of the incumbent with 51.56% of the votes when 81.6% of the precincts had reported.

Results started coming in after the polls closed at 8 p.m. Tuesday in California but results will not be certified until Dec. 11, according to the state. Secretary of State Alex Padilla has asked residents to remain patient as the vote count “may take a little longer this year.” 

“On Election Night, we will have a good picture of most contests, but the outcomes of close contests may take days or weeks to settle. This is normal,” he said in a previous statement.

California is expected to issue its first unprocessed ballots report, “which is a compilation of estimates from county elections offices,” toward the end of the day Thursday, according to spokesperson Sam Mahood. 

Wednesday’s update includes 195,971 vote-by-mail ballots processed since election night and those received on Sunday, Nov. 1. The total election results count is now 3.38 million, which is 59.24% of eligible county voters, according to county officials. An estimated 618,200 ballots, including 520,000 vote-by-mail ballots, have yet to be counted, according to county officials. 

With an undetermined number of mail-in-ballots and provisional ballots left to count, both candidates said Wednesday they are remaining confident and patient. 

“They’re going to continue counting and I surged on Election Day, so, I’m pretty confident in my 553-vote margin,” Wilk said Wednesday. “Obviously anyone who had a ‘D’ (for Democrat) next to their name did well because there was a blue wave in California. This year, Democrats mailed in their ballots and Republicans went to the polls but we will know later today.” 

Wilk has been in office since 2016, after winning that year with nearly 53% of the vote against Democratic candidate Johnathon Ervin. The incumbent also ran for state Assembly and won in 2012 and 2014.

Mueller remained confident in the remaining ballots yet to be counted. 

“We likely won’t know the final results for a while, but for an underdog grassroots campaign taking on an established incumbent with millions of dollars in support from big oil, we’re feeling really good today,” he said in a statement.   

27th Senate District 

In the race for the 27th Senate District, incumbent Henry Stern, D-Calabasas, continued to hold his significant lead over Republican opponent Houman Salem by more than 23 points. 

Stern, who also led the March primary election by nearly 30 points, earned 61.5% of the vote or 230,976 votes by noon Wednesday over Salem, who received 38.5% (144,851). 

Salem was unavailable for comment. Stern said in a statement Wednesday the vote on election night “was deeply affirming, that such a large majority of the people I work for want me to go back to work for them for another four years.” 

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