Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Horn has won the Long Beach area's 38th Congressional District seat for a fifth term, beating Democratic challenger Gerrie Schipske by just 1,768 votes in one of the state's closest races, according to the final tally posted by the Los Angeles County registrar-recorder Tuesday.
Since election night, Nov. 7, Horn, former president of Cal State Long Beach, had maintained a slim lead over Schipske in the strongly Democratic district that includes Long Beach, Lakewood and Downey. But with absentee and provisional ballots left to be tallied, Schipske hoped to turn the results around.
After tallying the county's last 26,120 ballots, spread among various races and districts, however, the registrar announced Tuesday that final results showed Horn with 87,266 votes, or 48.45%, and Schipske with 85,498 votes, or 47.47%.
The registrar is scheduled to certify the votes Tuesday. Spokeswoman Grace Chavez said that all ballots in the county appear to be tallied but that a handful of provisional votes could be added before certification.
"We're all human, and we do make mistakes," she said, quickly adding, "Any votes that come in would not be of a magnitude to change any race."
After the election is certified, Schipske has five days to request a recount. Unless it leads to a change in the result, however, she must pay for a recount.
Schipske, a lawyer, nurse-practitioner and part-time university teacher, did not return telephone calls Tuesday seeking comment.
The Horn camp remained cautious about claiming victory. "We go by what the registrar tells us. So if they're telling us there aren't any more [votes] to count, then we're pleased that we're in the lead," said Horn's campaign manager and son, Steve Horn Jr.
Throughout the campaign, Schipske's supporters focused on grass-roots get-out-the-vote drives, which produced many new voters. Although some of these people's names might not appear on the registrar's lists, they were allowed to vote and their ballots were set aside until after the election, when their identification and eligibility could be confirmed.
Schipske picked up some votes in the final count, but these so-called provisional votes were not enough to give her the victory.
Both candidates have struggled through similar close elections. In 1996, Schipske came within about 1,200 votes of knocking off a Republican legislator in the overlapping 54th Assembly. Horn won the 1992 Republican primary for his congressional seat by 105 votes, but this month's vote represented his closest general election.
Horn Jr. said his father was unfazed by the narrow margin. "When you're in Washington, working on legislation, whether you've won with 100% of the vote or by one vote, everyone has an equal vote [in Congress]," he said.