Liberatore requests recount of tight Congressional race
Candidate trails by 240 votes
Lake Arrowhead homebuilder Gregg Imus, R — 12,754 votes (15.6 percent)
Assemblyman Paul Cook, R — 12,517 votes (15.3 percent)
Businessman Phil Liberatore, R — 12,277 (15.0 percent)
Law office manager Jackie Conaway, D — 11,674 votes (14.3 percent)
Nine other candidates — 32,634 votes (39.8 percent)
SAN BERNARDINO • Businessman Phil Liberatore, who finished third in the hotly contested Eighth District Congressional race last month, filed papers with the Registrar of Voters to start recounting some of the ballots.
“It ain’t over,” said Bob Conaway, whose wife, Democrat Jackie Conaway, came in fourth in the race.
Liberatore finished third to Lake Arrowhead homebuilder Gregg Imus, who led with 12,754 votes and Assemblyman Paul Cook, who finished second with 12,517 votes. Liberatore finished 240 votes behind Cook and a key second-place finish, which would have put him through to the general election in the fall.
Registrar of Voters Michael Scarpello said it cost about $6,000 per day to conduct a recount, a cost that Liberatore’s campaign will be required to pay for. Workers will begin examining the ballots at 10 a.m. Friday at the Registrar of Voters office in San Bernardino.
Liberatore specified eight precincts he wanted elections workers to recount by hand Friday. If he chooses to continue the recount after that point, his campaign submitted 16 additional precincts that would then be recounted. Should he choose to continue further, the county would then recount all absentee ballots from those precincts, and then would count all of the remaining ballots by hand.
Scarpello said he did not know how long it would take to recount all 81,856 ballots if a candidate requested it. Usually, he said, candidates will stop a recount if the vote margin they are trailing by does not change significantly in early counts.
“Typically, with recounts, the votes just don’t change that much,” Scarpello said.
In a contested race for city clerk in San Bernardino earlier this year, a candidate that trailed by three votes trailed by six votes after the recount, Scarpello said.
Conaway said he was not surprised that Liberatore would ask for a recount. His campaign vastly outspent his competitors, according to campaign finance reports.
“He had the money, and this is the closest he’s ever gotten in all his prior attempts,” Conaway said, “so I figure he will spend the dough.”
Representatives of Liberatore’s campaign could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Sam Pearson may be reached at (760) 256-4126 or SPearson@DesertDispatch.com.