Preliminary voting results in the 21st Assembly District show the heavily funded Democratic Adam Gray taking the lead.
As of 10:51 p.m. Tuesday, according to the California Secretary of State, with 70.1 percent of precincts reporting, Gray was ahead of the race with a 55.3 percent of the votes districtwide, while his Republican opponent Jack Mobley was falling behind with a 44.7 percent of the votes.
Gray, who was welcome by applause and cheers by dozens of family members and supporters at the Branding Iron in Merced, said the results were looking great.
"I'm feeling good. It's just been a great campaign," he said. "I'm really happy that the community is out there supporting this message of unity. I engaged with them on a conversation on how we can improve the community. How can we all work together?"
Both candidates have different backgrounds and experiences. While the young Democratic candidate has legislative experience, the middle-age conservative candidate has private sector experience.
Gray and Mobley have been divided on major issues such as high-speed rail, but both have said they hope to address economic and unemployment issues.
However, they both have individual approaches as to how they would fix the economy.
Gray has stressed that UC Merced and education are key to improving the economy. Mobley has emphasized he will prioritize decreasing regulations for businesses and lowering taxes.
Mobley, who was with a group of 30 to 40 family and supporters at the old District Attorney's office in Merced before leaving for Modesto, said he he was the best person to represent constituents in the 21st District. However, he acknowledged that if he lost the race, he's not sure if he'd run again. "I'm not going to say never, but it would be kind of hard to revamp and do it all again."
The middle-age conservative said he was disappointed with the early results, but still had hope.
"Obviously I'm disappointed, but I think there's still
the opportunity that I can win," Mobley said.
Gray said he would get right to work if the positive preliminary results continued. Jobs and continuing to expand UC Merced would be his priorities, he said.
"I would continue to fight to make sure we get the funding" for the UC to continue
to grow, he said.
Controversy surfaced in this race after Gray listed himself as a university lecturer-adviser at UC Merced on election materials. UC Merced officials denied Gray's claim after Mobley inquired. Mobley blasted Gray for misrepresenting himself to the voters, but Gray continued to stand by his claim.
The predominantly Democratic district includes Merced County and the southwest section of Stanislaus County, including parts of Modesto.
Reporter Yesenia Amaro can be reached at (209) 385-2482 or firstname.lastname@example.org.