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Ex-Speaker Setencich Loses Assembly Seat

November 15, 1996| From Associated Press

FRESNO — Assemblyman Brian Setencich, who served a short term as California Assembly speaker to the ire of fellow Republicans, has been defeated in a long-shot write-in bid to keep his 30th District seat.

The outcome of four other Assembly races also became clear Wednesday and Thursday, after more than a week in which absentee ballot counting seemed to advance at a glacial pace.

In Setencich's race, conservative Republican Robert Prenter Jr. had 36,474 votes to Setencich's 26,236 with fewer than 6,000 ballots remaining to be counted.

Prenter was safely ahead in all of the district's four counties--Madera, Fresno, Kings and Kern--but Setencich's write-in total was only 1,330 below Prenter's ballot count in Setencich's home county of Fresno.

Prenter, 31, a surgical equipment salesman who lives in Hanford, was a political unknown until the late stages of the June primary, when a surge of outside conservative money helped him win the GOP nomination.

His candidacy was viewed as a slap at Setencich for agreeing to be speaker with Democratic help in September 1995 even though he was a freshman Republican. Setencich was ousted from the speaker's post when the Republicans took control of the Assembly last January.

The Democrats did not put up a candidate at the primary, so Prenter seemed assured of winning the seat until Setencich decided to seek reelection as a write-in candidate in the November general election. Democrat Linda Morales of Bakersfield also ran as a write-in, but got only 1,403 votes.

Setencich, 34, seemed resigned to his loss.

"I knew from the very start that winning a write-in campaign is virtually impossible to do," he said.

The outcomes of four other Assembly races are:

* Incumbent Republican Steven Kuykendall defeated Democrat Gerrie Schipske in District 54 in Los Angeles County.

* Democrat Sally Havice defeated Republican Richard Lambros in District 56 in Los Angeles County.

* Incumbent Republican Jim Morrissey defeated Democrat Lou Correa in District 69 in Orange County.

* Incumbent Republican Peter Frusetta defeated Democrat Lily Cervantes in District 28 in the Salinas area.

The races for three other Assembly seats and two state Senate seats remained too close to call.

In Los Angeles County's 43rd Assembly District, Democrat Scott Wildman led Republican John Geranios by 168 votes; in the San Francisco Bay Area's 15th Assembly District, Republican Lynne Leach led Democrat Gail Murry by 1,040 votes; and in the Central Valley's 26th Assembly District, Democrat Dennis Cardoza clung to a 103-vote lead over GOP candidate Thomas Berryhill.

The two close Senate races include the 7th District in Contra Costa County, where Republican Assemblyman Richard Rainey led Democrat Jeff Smith by 363 votes, and the 15th District in the Salinas area, where GOP Assemblyman Bruce McPherson was ahead of Democrat Rusty Areias by 1,078 votes.

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