San Diego Congressional District Down to Fewer Than 1,000 Votes

Provisional and mail-in ballots are still being counted in the contentious race for the 52nd Congressional District

Marked by attack ads, sexual harassment allegations and a campaign headquarters break-in scandal, one of the nation’s most closely watched races was still undecided early Wednesday.

Thousands of provisional and mail-in ballots are still being counted in the contentious race for the 52nd Congressional District where Republican challenger Carl DeMaio holds a lead over incumbent U.S. Rep. Scott Peters. 

DeMaio was ahead with just 752 votes after all precincts reported late Tuesday. The San Diego County Registrar says about 148,000 mail and provisional ballots have yet to be counted. The number of those affecting the 52nd District Race will be known later today.

"Every vote will be counted in this election," DeMaio said. "I believe when all votes are counted, we will prevail."

Peters' campaign manager MaryAnne Pintar was equally as determined, saying they will not concede.

"It's not over yet. Still many days of absentees and provisional votes to be counted," Pintar said.

Despite high-profile mudslinging that came to typify this race, both candidates felt they ran strong campaigns.

DeMaio described the campaign as "very negative" and "painful" as he addressed members of the media Wednesday morning.

He said his campaign will have monitors involved in the ballot count at the registrar while he takes part in the freshman orientation preparation for newly elected members of Congress.

"It’s been a really exhausting campaign, what’s a few more days,” DeMaio said of the ballot count.

As they wrap up their last day of campaigning, U.S. Rep. Scott Peters and challenger Carl DeMaio talk about their campaigns and thank their supporters on Nov. 4, 2014.

Six days before June’s primary election, DeMaio reported a break-in at his campaign headquarters. Computer screens were shattered, cords and cables were cut, water was poured over the electronics and DeMaio’s campaign strategy book disappeared, the candidate said.

In a taping of NBC 7’s “Politically Speaking” in October, Peters said he felt as if he’d initially been cast as the perpetrator of the break-in, though DeMaio later accused former staffer Todd Bosnich.

DeMaio alleged he was the break-in culprit at the same time Bosnich released the results of a polygraph test to support his claims that the candidate sexually harassed him.

In a CNN report on Oct. 10, Bosnich said he was the victim of unwelcome touching and repeated sexual harassment by DeMaio while working for him on the congressional campaign and during his 2012 mayoral run. Bosnich described an alleged incident where he was called to DeMaio’s office and the candidate exposed himself.

DeMaio denied the allegations, saying his former employee had “manufactured a story” to cover for a plagiarism incident.

The San Diego County District Attorney’s Office and the Chief of San Diego Police announced on Oct. 20 there is not enough evidence to press charges in Bosnich's claim or DeMaio's counterclaim.

Over the weekend, another former campaign staffer, Justin Harper, told KPBS DeMaio had exposed himself in a restroom on July 10, an accusation the DeMaio campaign called an “outrageous lie.”

On Sunday, protesters outside DeMaio's campaign headquarters demanded an apology for sexist emails they say he sent.

Their claim stems from an email DeMaio purportedly sent in January featuring a demeaning image of a Peters campaign aide. DeMaio has denied sending the email and told the UT San Diego that Bosnich fabricated it.

The tension in the race was evident in a failed handshake moment just before the taping of a "NBC 7 Politically Speaking" episode, when DeMaio did not accept Peters’ hand outstretched for a handshake. 

At Friday’s taping for NBC 7’s Politically Speaking, U.S. Rep. Scott Peters extended a hand to challenger Carl DeMaio. Watch the discussion between the two candidates on Sunday, Oct. 19 at 9 a.m. on NBC 7.
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