Nielsen wins big in special election |

Nielsen wins big in special election

Republican Jim Nielsen achieved a decisive win the District 4 State Senate seat late Tuesday night over Democrat Mickey Harrington in a special election, according to unofficial results on the California Secretary of State website.

Nielsen emerged from the race with a landslide victory as he had about double the votes of his opponent.

Nielsen managed to garner 85,334 votes (67 percent), while Harrington managed just 42,112 (33 percent) with about 88 percent of precincts reporting at 10:41 p.m, according to the SOS website.

The voting percentage trends held steady throughout the night as each new precinct reported.

In Nevada County, Nielsen received 9,541 votes (60 percent), while Harrington mustered 6,269 (40 percent) with all precincts reporting. Initial voter turnout numbers indicate about 31 percent of registered voters cast ballots in the special election, according to the Nevada County Elections Office Cumulative Report.

“I am certainly humbled and appreciative to have the vote of confidence of the citizenry of District 4,” Nielsen said.

“I am honored to represent them.”

Nielsen said he will begin working in Sacramento Wednesday and will be sworn in Thursday.

Nielsen will serve in the Senate for the remainder of Doug LaMalfa’s term, which will last until 2014, after which the District 1 state senator will represent all of Nevada County due to statewide redistricting that took effect in 2012.

“The state budget will continue to be a big issue, but the biggest issue in California is public safety,” Nielsen said. “Something must be done about the crime wave that has been unleashed by the current administration.”

The District 1 seat is currently held by Ted Gaines, who beat out Nevada City’s Julie Griffith-Flatter in the November general election.

LaMalfa vacated his seat in September in a move that was widely criticized as designed to pave the way for his chosen successor in Nielsen.

LaMalfa ran successfully for the U.S. Congress District 1 seat against Democrat Jim Reed and began his term last week.

Nielsen and LaMalfa are close political allies and often campaigned together in the days leading up to the November general election.

Nielsen denied allegations of anything underhanded, saying the point of vacating the seat was an attempt to avoid a special election, which carries an enormous cost to counties.

Nielsen did have the opportunity to win the seat outright in November if he had won 50 percent of the vote plus one; but he only managed to capture 49.8 percent.

Harrington garnered 27.8 percent of the vote in November, according to the Secretary of State’s website.

“Hosting a special election was inconvenient for me, but it cost taxpayers about $2 million,” he said.

Assistant Registrar of Voters Gail Smith said the cost to Nevada County to run the special election is estimated to be in the area of a $250,000.

The November race was complicated by Republican Dan Logue, who entered, then withdrew from the race but still appeared on the ballot.

Logue withdrew due to reported health complications and concentrated his efforts on winning California’s District 3 Assembly seat, which he managed to take with 56 percent of the vote.

Nonetheless, Logue took a significant portion of the conservative vote in Nevada County, garnering 5,731 votes for 14.54 percent of the turnout.

To contact Staff Writer Matthew Renda, email or call (530) 477-4239.

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