UPDATED: Irvine Mayor Don Wagner The Apparent Winner In 3rd Supervisor District Election

UPDATED with number of ballots left to count.

It appears the Republican Mayor of Irvine, Don Wagner has overcome a fractured Republican candidate field to defeat former Rep. Loretta Sanchez, the lone Democrat in the 7 candidate field, in the special election for the 3rd Supervisor District vacancy.

Wagner led throughout the evening, his lead widening from 1,554 votes in the first update to 2,980 votes at the end of the night.

According to the OC Registrar of Voters, there 9,233 ballots left to be counted. the breakdown:

Vote-by-mail (VBM) ballots: 1,612

Vote-by-mail ballots returned at polling places: 5,520

Provisional ballots: 1,951

Election Day paper ballots: 137

Conditional Voter Registrations (i.e. same-day registration and voting): 13

There will also be an unknown number of VBM ballots mailed and postmarked on Election Day.

Even if all remaining ballots went to either Wagner or Sanchez, the latter would still have to win two-thirds of those remaining ballots to overtake Wagner. Since Kris Murray and other candidates will take a significant chunk of the remaining ballots, the necessary Sanchez win-ratio becomes impossibly high.

Dozens of pieces of mail, funded by more than $1.2 million in combined campaign spending, blanketed 3rd Supervisor District voters for the past month. Voter contact was dominated by Wagner and Sanchez and their allies.

If the results hold – and it’s hard to see the result changing – Wagner will be the first Republican candidate to ever defeat Loretta Sanchez.

This is a huge win for the Orange County Republican Party and affiliated GOP organizations that rallied behind Wagner. A Sanchez win in the Republican-leaning 3rd Supervisor District would have been a body blow to OC Republicans in the wake of the disastrous November election results that saw Democrats capture every OC congressional seat.

For their part, OC Democrats hoped to continue the momentum from last November’s Blue Wave. They cleared several other Democrats from the field, as opposed to the six Republicans candidates. Not an auspicious debut for new DPOC Chair Ada Briceno and the cadre of leftist Democrats who won control of the DPOC leadership earlier this year.

Orange County Democrats had also hoped a Sanchez win would position them to capture a majority on the OC Board of Supervisors next year by picking up the heavily-Democratic 1st Supervisor District. Wagner’s win makes a Democrat-controlled Board of Supervisors a near-impossibility.


Irvine Mayor Don Wagner has taken a 3-point lead over former Rep. Loretta Sanchez in the initial vote returns in the 3rd Supervisor District special election:

This is good news for Wagner: given the Republican experience last November of late votes breaking heavily for Democrats, he’ll need a buffer to cinch a win if the late ballots follow a similar trend. Whether the margin is big enough is another question.

Both the OC GOP and the Democratic Party of OC have been heavily engaged in GOTV efforts. DPOC Vice Chair Victor Valladares proudly posted these photos of today’s Democrat ballot harvesting efforts on his Facebook page today:

UNITE-HERE Local 11 is the left-wing hotel workers union headed by Ada Briceno – who is also Chair of the Democratic Party of Orange County. All those completed but unsecured ballots floating about in the hands of partisan political activists. What could go wrong?

9:00 p.m. update:

After the second update, Wagner picked up 840 votes while Sanchez gained 586 votes – slightly widening Wagner’s lead to 3.5%.

10:00 p.m. Update:

Another update and Wagner is maintaining his lead over Sanchez. The Irvine mayor gained 2,172 votes while Sanchez added 1,969 votes. Wagner still leads by 3.5% – 2,011 votes.

When the first round of returns was posted, 50,121 ballots had been counted, and Wagner led Sanchez by 1,554 votes.

By the third round, an additional 6,503 ballots had been counted, and Wagner’s lead increased by 457 votes – to 2,011. These are presumably still vote-by-mail ballots (that were actually mailed in) being counted. These will tend to favor Wagner, so this is where he needs to pad his lead as much as possible. Once the late ballots (harvested and otherwise) start being counted, Sanchez will likely start gaining.

Last November, after all precincts were counted but before the late ballots, provisional, etc., were counted, Harry Sidhu led Ashleigh Aitken by 3,007 votes. By the time all ballots were counted and the election was certified, Sidhu’s lead shrank to 478 votes.

It’s reasonable to assume there will be far fewer late ballots of all kinds in this election, given the low turnout – so Wagner has cause to be optimistic.

10:30 p.m. UPDATE:

Another 3,807 ballots were counted in the latest update and more than half – 2,050 – of those went to Don Wagner. His lead over Sanchez  has widened to 2,980 votes – or a full 5%.  Wagner has even more reason for optimism.


  1. After November/December I’m waiting until the last ballot is counted before I think about celebrating. To me a 5 percentage point lead is nowhere near safe with mail ballots still to come in and the vote harvesting ability of Democrats. I think it needs to be almost 10 percentage points to feel safe and even that might not be enough. 36.6% is a lot better than I thought. The only consolation is that in the non-partisan contest Republicans did not do as bad as in the partisan ones, even Tim shaw losing was not as dramatic. However I’m a pessimist so I still expect Don Wagner to lose. hope I’m wrong.

    • David Michael Klawe

      OK, let’s talk about what HAS happened. With only this one race, the OCROV has more than likely processed Monday’s mail and drop off ballots in the initial count/ A small amount weren’t processed, basically those with issues such as signature matching, less than 500 is a good guess (1%).

      All electronic votes have now been counted and are the 9,834 precinct votes.

      So what remains, well, while all mailed ballots have to be postmarked by Tuesday, there are 5 days to allow the postal service to process and deliver them.

      Then you have all the non-electronic votes that were received by the precinct. That is those opting for paper instead of electronic, provisional ballots, and those from ballot harvesters, they drop them off at precincts for the most part.

      All the votes, EXCEPT the harvested ones should follow the trends shown currently in the count.

      Since it is the unions/Democrats that harvest ballots, they need about 3,000 of them for a chance to change the results.

      The OCROV will release the numbers of uncounted ballots, including the amount of Mail ballots dropped off at a precinct (or the OCROV’s office). If the number is under 3,000, well, Mayor Wagner has a new job.

      If it is close to 3,000, Mayor Wagner still should be OK, since the number is a combination of traditional main ballots dropped off as in the past. (For example, I take my Mother’s ballot with me to place in the ballot box, as she prefers to stay at home) and the harvested ones. I think at 3,500, I would start to worry.

      But I think it shows that for the sake of the party, or in reality the Republicans, Conservatives and many Independents, decisions need to be made prior to the election as to which person should run, to prevent the spreading out of votes and money. The Harvesters are told by the Unions/Democrats as to which persons to recommend to the person whose ballot they are helping out with and delivering to the precinct. We need to be smart with a playing field being shaped by Democratic Legislators.

    • Hey Wagner won because his entry on the ballot was well written. Ashleigh Aitken also had a great message yet it was not as clear and concise as Wagners. The fact is Wagner won by 5% and 3,000 votes…

      • David Michael Klawe

        As of Monday night, March 11th, the over 91,000 mail-in ballots dropped off at Vote Centers has not been touched, plus about 10,000 ballots from other sources. So since there are 5 districts, that leaves about 20,000 ballots left to count. So while Don Wagner has a comfortable lead, it is still too early to say he won.

        Now why the OCROV hadn’t started to process those votes dropped off, well, they might be looking at Ball or harvesting issues. But that is just a guess.

  2. Does this mean Loretta Sanchez has to gainfully employ herself and go get a real job? A National Term Limit policy would be an appropriate remedy to eliminate Dummycrats from constantly running for office to make a living off taxpayers.

  3. Latest update after over 8000 out of 10000 ballots were processed has

    Don Wagner – 28902

    Loretta Sanchez – 25489

    Hopefully this proves I was wrong and Don Wagner is the newest member of the Orange County Board of Supervisors. Thanks to Lou Correa’s law absentee ballots can still arrive until Friday.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Skip to toolbar