Tuolumne County Supervisor Randy Hanvelt fell behind in a tight race against challenger Ryan Campbell based on the final unofficial results released Tuesday night.
Campbell, a political newcomer, was leading the two-term incumbent by 42 votes. Hanvelt was not ready to concede defeat with thousands of ballots still left to be counted, though he acknowledged he was surprised by the result in a text message sent at 10:15 p.m.
“We can only congratulate Ryan on a well-run campaign, but the results will not really be in for awhile,” he stated. “Days.”
Debi Bautista, county clerk and auditor-controller, said there were still nearly 1,300 vote-by-mail ballots to be counted that were received by the county Elections Office on Tuesday.
Bautista said the race was too close to call as there were also likely thousands of vote-by-mail ballots dropped off at polling places that will be counted in the coming days.
Campbell was watching the results with supporters at Intake Bar and Grill in downtown Sonora on Tuesday.
After the first results of the night showed Campbell with a 31-vote lead, he said it was too early to say whether he felt confident that he would be victorious.
“It’s a good sign,” he said. “We haven’t seen all of the final results yet, but it’s a good start.”
The final results available Tuesday night showed Campbell with 1,604 votes, or 50.46 percent, while Hanvelt had 1,562 votes, or 49.13 percent.
It was Campbell’s widest lead of the night, after being separated from Hanvelt by only a single vote at one point.
“Looks like I won’t be going home anytime soon,” Campbell joked of the razor-thin margin when he led by one vote.
Hanvelt has served on the board since 2011 representing a district that covers the northwestern corner of the county from Soulsbyville to Alpine County, while Campbell was running for his first political office.
The race marked the first time Hanvelt has competed in a November runoff after being unable to pass the 50-percent threshold needed to win the seat outright in the June 5 primary election. He trounced his previous two opponents in 2010 and 2014 by nearly 30 percentage points.
Hanvelt outraised Campbell throughout the campaign by a margin of more than five-to-one, with strong support coming from other public officials, special interests, labor unions, and major corporations like Pacific Gas and Electric Co., AT&T, Sierra Pacific Industries, Cal Fire Local No. 2881, and the California Real Estate Industry Political Action Committee, among others.
Campbell tried to overcome the cash deficit by taking a more grassroots approach to campaigning, he said mostly by going door-to-door to boost his name recognition with voters and spread his message.
Hanvelt touted his connections forged over the years with key officials and lawmakers in Sacramento and Washington, D.C. at public forums, but Campbell took the outsider approach and said he would “stand up to the good old boys club” in campaign materials.
The two also differed in their stances on improving the area’s economy, which has remained largely stagnant since the 2008 economic recession.
Hanvelt emphasized the need for more workforce housing to bring more young families to the area and lobbying for policies that would bring back jobs in legacy industries like logging, while Campbell said the focus should be on funding for improvements to basic infrastructure like roads, high-speed Internet, libraries and recreation.
Campbell said he got the day off from his job as a county administrative analyst for the county Office of Emergencies and spent time making some phone calls and thanking people who helped with his campaign. He has pledged to quit the job if elected.
He also said he took his wife, Deputy Public Defender Hallie Gorman, and their three daughters to breakfast for the first time in months.
Contact Alex MacLean at email@example.com or (209) 588-4530.