At midnight Wednesday, some four hours after polls closed on a lightly traveled Election Day, Harmer (35.2 percent of the vote) had extended his lead ahead of San Joaquin County farmer and wine-grape grower Goehring (28.1 percent) in a race that has been tightly contested for months.
Though behind in the early going, Goehring campaign press secretary Nick Rappley said his camp was confident and optimistic at about 10 p.m. But, he added, “We’re in for a long night.”
Even with Harmer leading by seven percentage points, the race was too close to call as the clock struck 12.
The other two Republicans in the primary race, Tony Amador and Elizabeth Emken, were trailing far behind the two frontrunners at 19.3 percent and 17.4 percent, respectively.
The quartet was vying for the chance to unseat Democratic Rep. Jerry McNerney, who faced no Democratic primary challenger, in November’s general election.
Goehring, who lives in San Joaquin County, was extending a strong pull in the portion of San Joaquin that’s home to the 11th District. He led Harmer there 39.3 percent to 27.29 percent, with 52.3 percent of precincts reporting.
Harmer, however, was dominating in early returns the 11th District’s East Bay reaches. His 49.2 percent return in Contra Costa County with 31 percent of precincts reporting dwarfed Goehring’s 11.6 percent there.
The story was the same in Alameda County, where Goehring was carrying 9.1 percent of the vote to Harmer’s 48.5 percent with 34 percent of precincts reporting. Harmer also had a solid lead in Santa Clara County, where he counted 39.9 percent to Goehring’s 12.1 percent with 31 percent of precincts ringing in.
Emken and Amador were within four points of each other in all four counties sections of the 11th District.