5 Calif. legislative races too close to call

LOS ANGELES _ Five state legislative primary races remained too close to call on Wednesday, with candidates, including a tea party activist, separated in some cases by just a few dozen votes. Republican Tim Donnelly had a narrow primary lead to succeed Assemblyman Anthony Adams in a district straddling Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties. […]

Primary Election - Los Angeles

Primary Election - Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES _ Five state legislative primary races remained too close to call on Wednesday, with candidates, including a tea party activist, separated in some cases by just a few dozen votes.

Republican Tim Donnelly had a narrow primary lead to succeed Assemblyman Anthony Adams in a district straddling Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties.

Donnelly, a small businessman from Twin Peaks in San Bernardino County, founded the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps of California in 2005, but left the organization in 2006.

Donnelly, 44, said he decided to get involved after concluding that illegal immigration was driving up the cost of California prisons, education and social programs. It is his first run for public office.

“They (the federal government) pass the bill on to us. Isn’t that what the American Revolution was about? Taxation without representation,” Donnelly said in a telephone interview. “Illegal immigration is really just a touchstone into the much larger issue of government encroaching on our individual liberties.”

He said he isn’t opposed to illegal immigrants themselves: “I have a great deal of empathy for them. But we can’t solve all of Mexico’s problems.”

Donnelly held a 40-vote edge over his better-funded opponent, newspaper executive Chris Lancaster, with about 1,000 provisional ballots to be counted. The winner will face Democrat Darcel Woods in a heavily Republican district.

Adams, R-Hesperia, survived a recall effort last year after he voted to raise taxes. He was one of six Republicans who joined Democrats in voting for temporary increases to the vehicle license fee and the sales and income taxes in early 2009. He decided against seeking re-election.

Races for two other Assembly seats also remained undecided after voters chose from nearly 340 candidates for 100 legislative seats in Tuesday’s primary.

Michael Allen was leading in the Democratic contest to replace Assemblywoman Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa, who is running for state Senate.

Even tighter was the Sacramento fight to follow termed-out Assemblyman Dave Jones, who won the Democratic nomination for insurance commissioner. Sacramento County Supervisor Roger Dickinson had a slight edge over Sacramento City Council member Kevin McCarty in that Democratic primary.

Other tight races include contests to succeed termed-out Democratic state Sens. Denise Ducheny of San Diego and Dean Florez in the southern San Joaquin Valley.

Democratic Assemblywoman Mary Salas was leading former Assemblyman Juan Vargas for the Southern California seat.

Republican Tim Thiesen was ahead of Phillip Wyman in the San Joaquin Valley race.

The winners will face unopposed candidates from the opposite party in the November general election.

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