Nielsen back in the Senate
Tuesday was like any other night in Glenn County — very few surprises to upset the routine of the typically routine nature of farming communities.
And that included the special state Senate election.
As expected, former senator turned Assemblyman Jim Nielsen is back being a senator, winning 66.6 percent of the vote in the newly drawn 4th District, the state Secretary of State's election division reported.
The Gerber Republican succeeds former state Sen. Doug LaMalfa, R-Richvale, who stepped down ahead of his election to Congress.
Nielsen had 87,738 votes to Democrat Michael "Mickey" Harrington's 43,903, the state reported.
In Glenn County, Nielsen collected 2,816 votes, or 74.12 percent of the ballots cast, the county Elections Office reports.
Harrington received 983 votes, the unofficial results state.
The results are unofficial until the final canvass and certification by the Board of Supervisors.
The county reported 27 perecent of eligible voters cast ballots. This is in sharp contrast to the 75 percent turnout in the November presidential election.
Glenn County Deputy Clerk Susie Alves said voter turnout was actually better than expected for a single-issue special election.
"That is because of the 65 percent voting by mail," she said.
Only 433 or 3 percent of eligible voters turned out at the polls.
The 12 Northern California counties' $1 million cost price tag for Tuesday's special election has sparked new interest in asking the state Legislature to make similar single-issue runoff election a vote-by-mail only election.
"Glenn County would be in favor of it strictly for the cost savings," Alves said. "But I'm not optimistic the Legislature will consider it. It's gone before them two times and they don't seem to be in favor of it."
Alves said the county would also save money in similar elections if the Legislature would allows consolidation of precincts to one in Willows and one in Orland.
"The rest should be able to vote by mail," she said.
Nielsen was sworn-in Thursday by Associate Justice George Nicholson of the 3rd District Court of Appeals.
"It is a great honor and privilege to serve again," Nielsen said in a statement.
"Serving the citizens of the North State has been and continues to be my priority. I will carry on my work to push for a state government that serves the people rather than itself and a business friendly economy."
Nielsen, 68, was elected to the state Senate in 1978, then out of Yolo County, where he still owns a home. He won re-election in 1982 and 1986, and served as Republican leader in the Senate from 1983 until 1987.
He lost to current U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson in a close election in 1990, and was appointed to the Board of Parole and Prison Terms in 1992 and served as its chairman from 1993 until 2000.
He returned the the Legislature in 2008 as an Assemblyman, a position that raised issues about his actual residency.
The courts ruled his Gerber home was his legal residence, and later then Attorney General Jerry Brown determined on appeal that there was no evidence to warrant further investigation.
Nielsen won re-election to the Assembly in 2010, but opted not to run for what would have been a third and final two-year term this past calendar year.
Knowing LaMalfa intended to seek a seat in the House of Representatives, Nielsen decided to make a run at returning to the Senate.
He was facing what was certain to be a tough campaign against Assemblyman Dan Logue when the Loma Rica Republican, who also was running for re-election in the Assembly, decided to drop out of the Senate race.
Nielsen and Harrington were the top two vote-getters from the special primary election that was consolidated with the general election on Nov. 6.
Nielsen came up just shy of the 50 percent plus one majority that would have eliminated the need for the run-off.
The district includes all or parts of Colusa, Glenn, Tehama, Butte, Del Norte, Nevada, Placer, Shasta, Siskiyou, Sutter, Trinity and Yuba counties.