The race for the 35th District California state Assembly seat ended Monday morning, as Republican candidate Bob Pohl conceded defeat to Democrat Pedro Nava.
The Pohl campaign sent out a press release via e-mail Monday morning in which Pohl congratulated Nava for his election to the state Assembly. Pohl thanked his supporters and pledged to continue his work in education and health care, and to continue to devote himself to the creation of a “green economy” in California. Nava, who has been in Sacramento for state legislature training since last Wednesday, received news of his victory on Monday morning.
Pohl’s concession came in the wake of a six-day standoff between the two candidates. Following last Tuesday’s election, both the Pohl and Nava campaigns deemed the race for the 35th District too close to call. A record number of absentee ballots in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, both of which feed into the 35th District, were uncounted and could potentially have swung the election in either candidate’s favor.
By Friday of last week, both counties had tallied a portion of their respective ballots, which showed Nava was ahead by approximately 7,000 votes.
When Pohl conceded Monday, Nava held 52.5 percent of the tallied votes, while Pohl held 47.5 percent.
Pohl said he and his campaign staff first considered conceding defeat over the weekend, as the number of tallied absentee ballots continued to rise in Nava’s favor.
“We realized that, as the ballot counts were coming in, it was very unlikely we could close the gap,” Pohl said.
Pohl said his campaign staff is currently in the process of analyzing the campaign strategy to find areas in which the campaign may have been weak or ineffective in rallying voter support. He said he is unsure whether he will run again.
“It was damn close and hopefully behind every closed door, there’s an open one – we just have to figure out what that door is,” Pohl said. ” I have to tell you, I’m terribly disappointed. I really wanted this. I wanted to serve in the 35th District Assembly seat for the people of this district.”
Nava said Pohl’s concession came as no surprise to him, and said he expected to win the race since last Wednesday.
“I was confident at 3 a.m. on Wednesday morning when I received the numbers from Ventura County that we had a sufficient enough lead and that we would succeed,” Nava said.
As county officials tallied absentee ballots, Nava said his confidence grew.
“I was following the votes as everyone else was,” Nava said. ” There was a pattern – as the number of counted absentee ballots went up, the margin of lead on my behalf went up, too.”
Since Wednesday, Nava said he has been meeting with the Speaker of the Assembly, Fabian Nunez (D-46th District, Los Angeles), regarding his legislative duties for next year, and said he has been meeting with both Republican and Democratic assembly members to plan the assembly’s agenda for its next session.
Nava said the bipartisan nature of these meetings will allow him to push his agenda, which includes the reinstatement of a $1,500 tax credit for teachers, and improving public education, health care and the environment.
“We have newly elected Republicans and newly elected Democrats in the same room,” Nava said. “We all understand how important it is that we work together for the benefit of California. What’s high on my list is making sure we do that.”
Nava said he attributes the success of his campaign to the dedication of his campaign staff and to efforts made by the Campus Democrats at UCSB to promote him as a candidate. He said he is relieved the wait for the election results has ended and said he can now begin focusing on his upcoming term.
“I think [Pohl and I] are glad the campaign is over,” Nava said. “The voters have spoken.”
Nava will be inaugurated into the 35th District state Assembly seat in January 2005.