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Buster's Strongest Rival Hoping for Runoff

The contest for a Riverside County supervisor's seat is still too close to call.

March 04, 2004|Seema Mehta | Times Staff Writer

The candidate challenging Riverside County Supervisor Bob Buster refused to concede the election Wednesday, arguing that the race was too close to call.

Linda Soubirous, ill with the flu, said she remained hopeful that the contest will have to be decided by a runoff, since the registrar of voters was still counting absentee and provisional ballots.

"It's still going, and so I have not given up," Soubirous said. "We're neck and neck and we've got a lot of votes down there that still need to be counted. I won't give up until the end because it's way too close."

Buster said he expects his lead to hold.

"We think the trend is very positive," he said. "I'm very pleased that the voters have confidence in me, and I'm looking forward to serving another four years. It's really going to be a privilege to work on important county issues. We have to get through the next 48 hours first."

On Tuesday, the count for Buster was 50.2% of 44,248 votes cast, and if those results hold up, he will have won the election outright. But if his share of the votes dips one vote below 50%, he will be forced into a runoff against Soubirous in November.

Soubirous, heavily backed by the Riverside Sheriff's Assn., received nearly 35% of the vote.

Former Lake Elsinore Councilman Kevin Pape collected about 15% of the votes cast in the race to represent the 1st District.

Registrar of Voters Mischelle Townsend said she expects the results to change slightly, but that Buster's lead should hold.

Townsend's office is counting absentee ballots that were mailed at the last minute or dropped off at polling places on election day; the counting should be completed Friday. On Monday, counting and verifying of provisional ballots will begin. Results may not be certified until the end of the month, after which a candidate has five days to ask for a recount.

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