Nielsen headed to easy win in state Senate runoff
Jim Nielsen: 80,820
Mickey Harrington: 40,739
55.9% of precincts reporting
Jim Nielsen appeared headed back to the state Senate for the first time in more than two decades on Tuesday night, with a commanding lead in the 4th State Senate District special election runoff.
Nielsen, who served in the state Senate until 1990, would be filling the seat vacated last year by Doug LaMalfa, who wanted to focus on a successful bid for a seat in Congress.
Most experts forecast a relatively low turnout for the election, which was necessitated when neither Nielsen, a Republican, nor second-place finisher Mickey Harrington, a Democrat, received a majority of votes on the Nov. 6 ballot.
But Nielsen, from Gerber in Shasta County, said he believed his strong showing – nearing two-thirds of the electorate in early returns – demonstrated he was getting Democratic and independent voters as well.
“Regardless of there being low turnout, pulling beyond the Republican base shows broad support,” Nielsen said.
The district, which encompasses both Yuba and Sutter counties and stretches north to the Oregon border, was contested under lines from 2010, when LaMalfa won his four-year term.
Harrington, a retired electric utility and union employee who lives in Magalia, said he wasn’t conceding anything until the last votes were counted, noting Nielsen briefly had above 50 percent in November, but slipped below as more votes came in.
“I think that’ll change, but probably not enough,” Harrington said, after being told of Nielsen’s lead of 65-35 percent at about 8:45 p.m. “Until it’s all in, you don’t know.”
A victorious Nielsen, who also represented the region in the Assembly in recent years, would be returning to a statehouse where Democrats now have a more than two-thirds majority in the state Senate, potentially blunting how much impact the GOP will have.
Nielsen said he’ll be effective by being knowledgeable, respectful and able to come up with answers to problems facing the state.
Specifically, he said, he’ll continue to emphasize public safety, particularly the impacts being felt by state criminal justice realignment.
“We’re being mass victimized in California by dangerous people being released from prison,” Nielsen said. The state’s budget also still needs work, including a spending cap and regulatory reform, he said.
“The goal is to ensure that government serves the people and not itself,” Nielsen said.
Harrington said regardless, he would run again in 2014, when the term being contested Tuesday would end.
New district boundaries taking effect then would give him a better chance of winning, he said.