Who will compete in the runoff to replace former Rep. Jane Harman (D-Venice) won't be determined until at least Friday, when workers finish counting the estimated 9,811 remaining ballots, L.A. County elections officials said Wednesday.
The top finishers late Tuesday night were Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn and conservative businessman Craig Huey, with 13,137 and 11,648 votes, respectively. But Secretary of State Debra Bowen trailed Huey by just 206 votes.
A candidate has five days after the tally is completed to seek a recount. Bowen on Wednesday asked supporters to help her raise money for one if she does not prevail when this week's tally is finished. A candidate seeking a recount must pay for it in advance, but the money is refunded if the outcome changes.
The runoff is set for July 12.
Huey's strong showing surprised observers. Democrats in the South Bay-based district have a nearly 18% registration edge, and he was one of six Republicans on the ballot. He pumped $500,000 of his own money into the campaign.
Both Hahn and Bowen are politically seasoned, relatively well known Democrats and were widely expected to advance to a runoff. That would mark the first time since California voters approved a new "top two" elections system that members of the same party would compete in a final round of balloting.
Slightly less than 16% of the 36th Congressional District's roughly 345,000 voters cast ballots in Tuesday's polling, estimated to cost $1.7 million. Almost half the voting was by mail, officials said.
Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean C. Logan said the ballots not processed Tuesday night included some filed by mail, so-called provisional ballots and some that were withheld because of damage or other problems. They were being examined during the manual count that began Wednesday.