The June 5 race for second place in California's Congressional District No. 2 is now over. That's according to Norman Solomon, who after three weeks of waiting out the slow vote count now says there just aren't enough untallied ballots out there for him to pass Republican Dan Roberts, and thus notch a spot on the general election ballot in November.
If Roberts' lead does hold up, he will face Democrat Jared Huffman, who won the contest by a large margin.
Solomon campaign consultant Tom Higgins told me "you have to know when to hold 'em and know when to fold 'em," and it was time to do the latter. He said it was not impossible but "extremely improbable" that Solomon could pass Roberts given the number of uncounted ballots left, which he put at anywhere from 750 to 1,000.
On June 7, Roberts led Solomon by almost 1,400 votes, but as the votes were counted in the various counties that make up the newly apportioned and widespread district, which runs from Marin all the way up to Del Norte County on the Oregon border, Roberts' lead was substantially whittled down. The California Secretary of State currently has the difference between the two candidates at 395 votes; the Solomon campaign says the margin is now just 172 . But with the remaining votes having to be divvied up among 12 candidates, the math is not on Solomon's side.
Here's this morning's statement announcing the concession:
Democrat Norman Solomon has narrowed the vote margin with Republican Dan Roberts to only 172 votes throughout the six counties comprising California's 2nd Congressional District.
Fewer than 1,000 ballots remain to be counted in Sonoma County, the only county still tallying ballots in the district. While the 172-vote gap is expected to narrow still further as Sonoma County processes its final outstanding ballots, it has become numerically very unlikely Solomon will overtake Roberts as these few remaining ballots are tallied.
Accordingly, this morning Norman Solomon contacted Dan Roberts and offered congratulations on his second-place finish in this "top two" primary race.
Solomon provides the following statement as this campaign for Congress concludes:
"The ideals that have propelled this campaign will continue to energize people across our congressional district in the years ahead. To overcome a status quo of perpetual war, extreme Wall Street power, chronic inequities and environmental degradation, we will keep working for peace, social justice, a healthy planet -- and genuine democracy.
"I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to everyone who has made our grassroots campaign possible. Staff members and many others have worked long hours with great dedication, skill and creativity. More than 7,000 different individuals have made donations. Hundreds of caring volunteers have been actively engaged. With enormous generosity -- devoting their time, talents and a wide range of personal resources to our campaign -- so many people have given a tremendous gift of idealistic engagement in the politics of participatory democracy. They have inspired me every day, and I will always be deeply grateful.
"Although I will not be on the general-election ballot in this congressional race, I'm certain the political energies that galvanized and fueled our campaign will strengthen future movements for social change. This particular campaign has ended, but the imperative to create a better world continues. Martin Luther King Jr. said, 'The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice.' Our challenge is to do all we can to hasten the process."
Update 2:10 p.m. I asked Norman Solomon today why he didn't wait to concede until the last batch of votes were counted. He said, "The result is clear, and until this morning the result was not clear. And keep in mind that we were getting pressure to concede when there were 30,000 and 40,000 votes uncounted. We've hung in there, we've provided tremendous amounts of energy and time to make sure the votes would get counted."
Solomon said Dan Roberts was able to edge him out of second place because the vote was fractured among eight Democratic Party candidates, while only two Republicans were on the ballot. He said it was too soon after the race's end to endorse Huffman, and that "all in due time we will be talking about that." He also said he "wouldn't rule out" running for office again.
I asked him about speculation that the Democratic Party would rather see Huffman face off against Republican Roberts than a fellow Democrat like himself so as to aboid drawing precious resources away from more competitive races. (The conventional wisdom is that Huffman will win easily in a heavily Democratic district.) Solomon answered this way, echoing some of the themes of his campaign:
"Genuine democracy is inconvenient for the power structures that want to maintain the status quo, more or less. There is an establishment and it's fairly comfortable with the way things are now. Our base and our campaign is very much inclined and determined to challenge the way things are because the economy is increasingly unfair: the gaps between rich and poor, the warfare state enriching military contractors, and Wall Street making out like bandits while Main Street continues to suffer. Our campaign offered a choice, not simply corporate Democrats and Republicans being on the agenda."