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With preliminary returns showing the 80th Assembly District headed toward a runoff election, the Registrar of Voters expects to release the next set of voting results Thursday.

Democrat David Alvarez was leading the race Tuesday with 38.42 percent of the vote, according to unofficial election returns. Fellow Democrat Georgette Gómez was close behind with 36.98 percent, while Republican Lincoln Pickard followed with 24.6 percent.

Alvarez, a former social worker who held a San Diego City Council seat from 2010 to 2018, and Gómez, an environmental advocate who served on the San Diego City Council from 2016 until 2020, are competing against Pickard, who is making his fifth run for the seat.

“We are excited to be in first place with 38 percent of the votes and will give it our all to win this election,” Alvarez said in a statement Wednesday. “I will continue to run a positive campaign focused on what people care about: the cost of living, education, a South Bay university, funding police and public safety, getting homeless off the streets.”

The Assembly district, which includes Chula Vista, National City, Imperial Beach and Otay Mesa, became open when former Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez resigned in January to lead the California Labor Federation.

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The special election will fill the vacancy for the remainder of a term that ends in December. If no candidate wins a majority of votes, the two front-runners will go to a runoff held during the June 7 primary election.

Candidate Georgette Gómez holds a sign and gives a thumbs up to passing motorists on the corner of Telegraph Canyon Road

Candidate Georgette Gómez holds a sign and gives a thumbs up to passing motorists in Chula Vista on Tuesday.

(Kristian Carreon/For The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Although the Registrar has not yet announced final results, the candidates looked ahead to the likely runoff in June.

“I’m excited that South County voters strongly supported our campaign tonight and I’m thrilled to be advancing to the runoff,” Gómez said in a statement Tuesday night. “I’ve spent my life fighting for working families who deserve better and that’s exactly who I’ll stand up for in the state Assembly to expand affordable housing, reduce health care costs, and protect our climate.”

The 34,406 votes counted in early returns Tuesday included mail ballots submitted before Election Day and ballots cast in person on Tuesday or during the early voting period. They represent 14 percent of registered voters in the district.

The Registrar estimates that there are an additional 6,500 ballots that remain to be counted, including mail ballots and provisional ballots that came in Election Day. Most of those results will be released Thursday after 5 p.m., the Registrar announced. However, since mail ballots can be received up to April 12, there may be more that arrive through next Tuesday.

“Election workers must review and process every provisional and mail-in ballot envelope,” said Antonia Hutzell, a spokesperson for the Registrar’s office. “It’s a labor-intensive, time-consuming process. For each provisional ballot, election workers must make sure the voter didn’t already cast a ballot or was otherwise ineligible to vote.”

Source: This post first appeared on sandiegouniontribune.com

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