2012-11-08 / Community

Brownley shocks Strickland in 26th

After trailing early, late push gives Democrat big win
By Darleen Principe

After one of the closest and most expensive political races Ventura County has ever seen, voters on Tuesday sent a new member to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Democrat Julia Brownley has won the newly formed 26th Congressional District.

Brownley, a three-term member in the coastal 41st Assembly District, trailed her Republican opponent—state Sen. Tony Strickland—as the initial returns came in, but as the ballots continued to be tallied Brownley inched ahead and built a lead she never relinquished.

“When the first returns came in we thought they’d be better,” Brownley said. “But we also knew from the very get-go that things could go very well for us, and ultimately they did.”

The 26th District includes most of Ventura County and a sliver of western Los Angeles County.

Brownley won 52 percent of the votes. Strickland, a freshman state senator from the 19th Senate District, earned 48 percent.

Elections offices have until Dec. 7 to certify the election, which may still be affected by mail-in and provisional ballots that haven’t been counted.

Still, Brownley said she is gearing up to attend a new-member congressional orientation in Washington next Tuesday.

She will then return to the county to work out details of her staff before taking her oath of office in early January.

“I’m just absolutely thrilled and looking forward to being very visible throughout the district and getting better acquainted with so many people,” Brownley said Wednesday. “I’m very, very grateful to the folks in Ventura County who had faith in my candidacy and voted for me.”

Strickland could not be reached for comment.

The newly drawn district, which includes Westlake Village in Los Angeles County and most of Ventura County except for part of Simi Valley, contains 31 percent registered Democrats and 25 percent registered Republicans.

For Democrats, the local race was an opportunity to regain Ventura County following longtime GOP representation by soon-to-retire U.S. Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-Camarillo), who held the county 13 consecutive terms.

After the primary race earlier this year, Strickland and Brownley emerged as the top-two vote getters from a crowded, sixcandidate running field—one that included four Democrats and independent candidate Linda Parks, a Ventura County supervisor.

“I really believe it’s a transformational moment for Ventura County with a different type of representation,” Brownley said. “I want to move forward on the issues we’ve talked about, that really is about expanding the middle class, protecting Medicare and Social Security, education and healthcare.

“I want to do a lot of listening over the next few weeks in preparation of taking the oath.”

Voter breakdown

According to the Ventura County clerk and recorder’s offi ce, about 60.2 percent of the county’s 427,000 registered voters cast ballots in the Nov. 6 election. That’s almost double the 33 percent voter turnout in the June primary.

While Brownley carried the more liberal West County districts of Oxnard and Ventura, Strickland performed well in the conservative East County and won 55 percent of the Westlake Village vote in Los Angeles County.

Brownley and Strickland raised nearly $4 million for the primary and general elections. Reports show Strickland collected $2.2 million and Brownley $1.8 million.

VOTE COUNT

Julia Brownley (D)
105,734 votes
Tony Strickland (R)
98,635

All figures are unofficial as of press time Wednesday.

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