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Republican concedes in Senate race

Lou Correa defeats Lynn Daucher in the O.C. squeaker. The GOP will probe Democratic involvement in a third candidate's race.

November 21, 2006|Christian Berthelsen | Times Staff Writer

After a vote count that stretched for nearly two weeks after the election, Republican Lynn Daucher conceded a hard-fought Orange County state Senate race to Democrat Lou Correa on Monday, after he took an insurmountable lead with virtually all ballots counted.

Correa, an Orange County supervisor and former assemblyman, was leading by 1,302 votes, 50.2% to 49%.

"It looks like Lou has won, and when I return I will certainly be calling him," said Daucher, speaking from Tennessee, where she was on vacation. "I hope he represents the 34th Senate District well."

Correa's win means the seat will remain in Democratic hands, after the departure of Sen. Joe Dunn (D-Santa Ana) because of term limits.

Otto Bade, a Republican who ran a last-minute write-in campaign as a conservative alternative to the moderate Daucher, and who received financial support from an independent committee affiliated with Democrats, had received 910 votes and did not ultimately make the difference in the race.

Dick Ackerman, the GOP leader in the Senate, said Republicans would investigate the role played by Bade and Californians United, which spent about $90,000 in support of the write-in campaign, as well as what he said was the unusual number of provisional ballots that broke in Correa's favor. Republicans want to investigate links between Bade's campaign and Democrats who support Correa.

Ackerman said he would not demand a recount.

Correa declined to declare victory, saying he did not want to comment until the last vote was counted, even though the number of outstanding ballots at this point would not change the outcome of the race.

The contest was the closest and most expensive legislative race in the state, with the two candidates and independent campaign committees raising more than $6.6 million for the general election, state filings show.

Bade was the Republican candidate against Tom Umberg in a 2004 Assembly race and lost by a wide margin. Republicans put few resources into that campaign after thorny details emerged about his personal history.

In 1973, Bade, then a Garden Grove police officer, was charged with manslaughter after shooting a suspect in the back, according to newspaper reports. A judge dismissed the charges before the case went to trial. In 1986, Bade and a business partner were charged with fraud for allegedly padding a bill to the city of San Jose by $37,000. The men pleaded not guilty; the disposition of the case could not be determined.

Bade entered the Senate race two weeks before the election. Three days later, Californians United made the first payments for phone banks and campaign mail in support of Bade. The group spent nearly $200,000 to support Correa in the primary against Umberg.

An independent expenditure committee can campaign on behalf of candidates but may not work directly with them.

It is unclear who controls Californians United. Its phone number is that of a lobbying firm run by Bruce Young, a former Democratic assemblyman convicted in 1987 of mail fraud in connection with illegal political payments from fireworks manufacturer W. Patrick Moriarty. The conviction was then overturned.

Young has said he is not an officer of the group but acknowledged he performs work for it.

Paul Kinney, who was listed as Californians United's president on an April campaign filing, said he knew little about the group. He referred questions to Lance Olson, a lawyer for the state Democratic Party. Olson did not return two telephone calls seeking comment.

Bade did not return calls in recent days. Last month, he said he did not know the people behind the independent committee paying for mailers and phone banks supporting him.


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