California Controller candidate Betty Yee, a San Francisco Democrat, will officially square off against Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin, a Republican, in the November runoff election after rival Democrat John Perez today called off a recount request. Perez finished in third place, just 481 votes behind Yee.
Perez, formerly the first openly gay speaker of the California Assembly, had asked for recounts in Kern, Imperial, and San Bernardino counties on July 6. But as those counts dragged on and the deadlines for printing fall ballots neared, the California Democratic Party was pressuring Perez to withdraw, last week contributing $50,000 to her campaign.
The Perez campaign released the following statement just before 5pm today:
“Today I have made the decision to bring the recount process to an end, and pledge my full support to Betty Yee to be California’s next Controller.
While I strongly believe that completing this process would result in me advancing to the General Election, it is clear that there are significant deficiencies in the process itself which make continuing the recount problematic. Even in the effort so far, we have found uncounted ballots, but there is simply not enough time to see this process through to the end, given the fact that counties must begin printing ballots in the next few weeks in order to ensure that overseas and military voters can receive their ballots in a timely manner.
I began this process because every vote deserves to be counted fairly and accurately, and as the recount has made clear, California needs to rethink our approach and incorporate best practices from across the nation. This effort was not about the outcome of a particular election, but the integrity of every election, and the issues brought to the light over the last two weeks need to be addressed in a comprehensive and thoughtful manner.
It has been an honor and a privilege to serve in the Assembly these last six years, and to have led the Assembly at a time when we’ve turned multi-billion dollar deficits into multi-billion dollar reserves, expanded healthcare for more than three million Californians and made college affordable again by enacting the Middle Class Scholarship Act. I am grateful for the support my campaign has received from everyday Californians who have seen the work my colleagues and I have done in the Legislature, and embraced our vision of fiscally responsible and progressive government which expands opportunity for all Californians. We built a tremendous record of accomplishment together, and I look forward to making contributions to build on that record of progress in the future.
In the immediate term, I will be continuing my service in the Assembly, and working hard to help elect Democrats up and down California.”