Alameda County Sheriff's Cmdr. Yesenia Sanchez has now edged narrowly above 50% of the overall vote count, positioning her for a surprise upset defeat of her boss, Sheriff-Coroner Greg Ahern, outright in the three-candidate primary if the results hold in the end.
In the latest tabulation update from the Alameda County Registrar of Voters' Office late Friday afternoon, Sanchez's first-place status from earlier in the week improved by nearly three percentage points to 50.12% – 176 votes above the threshold needed to earn a victory in the primary and avoid a runoff in November.
Ahern, a 15-year incumbent considered by many as a favorite for the primary, stands at 34.02% and is staring at the prospect of no runoff to earn re-election – something that seemed only a slim possibility as Sanchez finished Election Night with 46.80% and the crept over 47% with the results update Thursday.
"If present trends hold, and I believe they will, the people of Alameda County have entrusted me with a solemn duty: to serve as the next Sheriff of Alameda County. I won't let them down," Sanchez, a Livermore resident, told the Weekly on Friday.
"I want to thank the many supporters who rallied around our campaign for reform, transparency, and accountability," she added. "This victory may come as a surprise to many people, but it's a clear indication that Alameda County is hungry for change. I thank the incumbent for his service, and I will work with him on an orderly transition."
For countywide seats, the first-place finisher in a primary election would have to receive more than 50% of the overall vote in order to win the position outright, otherwise the top two finishers advance to a runoff ballot in the general election.
The third candidate in the primary, Alameda resident and San Francisco Police Department Officer JoAnn Walker, sits at 15.86% of the vote.
County election officials continue to process remaining eligible ballots, primarily vote-by-mail ballots that were postmarked by Tuesday but not yet delivered, but also provisional and conditional ballots. It is not immediately clear how many pending ballots there are countywide.
With the current totals, Sanchez has earned 75,220 votes, Ahern has 51,064 and Walker has 23,803.