Swearengin Leads Controller's Race in Primary Election

Published 06/04 2014 06:29PM

Updated 06/04 2014 06:34PM

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin leads in the race for state controller-- a very close contest. 

With all precincts reporting, Swearengin took 24.4 percent of the vote, followed by John A. Perez (D) 21.7 percent, David Evans (R) 21.6 percent, Betty T. Yee (D) 21.5 percent. 

As state controller, Swearengin would be in charge of California's book keeping and in charge of the ninth largest economy in the world.

Political analyst say it could put the Republican mayor out of Fresno into the national spotlight.

It took some by some surprise, including Swearengin.

"I don't think any of us expected, really, we didn't know what would happen tonight," Swearengin said Tuesday night. 

"I'm a little bit surprised, and I'm glad she's doing well," says Steve Brandau, president of the Fresno City Council. 

Brandau would become the interim mayor if Swearengin successfully wins the bid for state office. The council would then have to hold a special election.

Brandau says, when it comes to city finances, Fresno has seen a turn around under Swearengin's leadership.

"She inherited quite a mess. Right as she got elected as mayor is about the time the economy was really damaged. And so we've seen a lot of recovery from that," Brandau says. 

The state controller's job is to make sure all of California's bills are paid on time. It's a job that manages an economy larger than that of some small countries.

Swearengin says she's the woman for the job.

"They (voters) want to see the state fiscally healthy, and it's extremely important to everything we want to accomplish in California. And then secondly, they want to see jobs created in our state again, so those concerns are expressed statewide," Swearengin says. 

Swearengin captured about one-quarter of the votes.

Political analyst Don Larson says running against three democrats in the primary helped spread out the vote.

If Swearengin advances to the general election in November and wins, political analysts say it could be a career move that launches Swearengin into the national spotlight.

"When you've got a Republican who can win in a Democratic state, the national Republican party is going to take a good look at that candidate," Larson says. 

July 11 is the deadline for all provisional and mail-in ballots to be counted.

Political analysts say it's unlikely that Swearengin's lead would diminish.

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