Tuesday night spelled the end of the line for several candidates, while others claimed or re-claimed seats, and others advanced to the November elections.

The Santa Barbara County Registrar of Voters expected roughly 35.82% of the county’s 191,061 voters to voice their opinions this election. Election Day served as a trial of California’s new open primary system in which all candidates except for president appeared on the same ballot, allowing voters to cast their ballots at will. The turnout Tuesday was low. Many observers expect turnout to double in the general election, which could give Democratic candidates an edge.

On Wednesday, Chief Deputy Registrar of voters Billie Alvarez said about 16,229 absentee and provisional ballots remain to be counted. One of the most contentious and significant races for Santa Barbara County saw incumbent Doreen Farr handily defeat Steve Pappas in the race for 3rd District Supervisor.

With 100% of precincts reporting, the Solvang resident topped the challenger, 54.51% to 45%. Farr told the Journal on Wednesday morning that her effort to reach out to constituents gave her a name-recognition advantage, and that her work on the board reassured voters that she was an able leader.

“They see that I always strive to seek compromise and work collaboratively with other elected officials in the cities and the special districts, and especially with my fellow supervisors,” she said. “I think a lot of the time, it’s not big policy issues, but those day-to-day constituent issues that are so important to their quality of life and what they want their community to be.”

The focus on the 3rd district, which stretches from UCSB to Guadalupe, stems from its political importance: It straddles what many believe is the cultural and political divide between the more conservative voting community of the North County and the left-leaning stronghold of Isla Vista and UCSB, which are seen by some as incompatible with the shared social and political interests of the rest of the district.

During the campaign, Farr poked at Pappas’s inexperience in county government. She said she had heard from voters who were put off by the lawsuit Pappas brought against her in which he challenged the results of the 2008 election for 3rd District Supervisor because of alleged voter fraud. Pappas lost that election by fewer than 806 votes out of 35,621.

“I think even those people who might have thought there was enough there (in the suit) for him to explore it, that once the superior court ruled against him, more people thought it should have been dropped,” she added. Asked if she was concerned about voter fraud in general, Farr said “I don’t think for a moment there was voter fraud in the 2008 election, and that was confirmed repeatedly. Joseph Holland (clerk recorder for the county) is elected in his own right, and he’s responsible for making sure our elections are done fairly and properly. I believe wholeheartedly in the work that Joe and his staff do; they take every precaution and follow all the rules.”

Pappas, a self-described independent, told the Journal he was surprised by the low turnout. He said it was too soon to say whether he’d run for office again. “I knew it would be a tough race, but the importance of getting the message out there to as many people as possible outweighed the fight we knew we would encounter,” Pappas said. “The issues were – and are – just too important.”

Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, outpaced her challengers in the Congressional primary race, placing her in a two-way battle with Republican Abel Maldonado in November for California’s newly drawn 24th Congressional District seat.

Capps took 46.5% of the vote and Maldonado, the former lieutenant governor from Santa Maria, finished second with 30.5%. Republican and Tea party favorite Chris Mitchum, a former actor and member of the Republican Party Central Committee, grabbed 20.7%. Law student Matthew Boutte of San Luis Obispo finished last with 2.4%.

The 24th Congressional District now includes more conservative districts, having shed some Democratic-leaning areas of Ventura County while absorbing Republican-strongholds in the North County, including the Santa Ynez Valley, and San Luis Obispo. Last year, Capps handily defeated Watson in a district that had a Democratic voter registration advantage of 45% to 27%. The redrawn map has whittled that edge down to 4 percentage points.

“I look forward to meeting residents across the district in the months ahead and discussing important issues, including how we can improve our economy and create more jobs, protect Social Security and Medicare, and make college more affordable,” Capps, who has represented the district for the past 14 years, said in a statement on Tuesday night.

Maldonado told the Journal that Mitchum, who had criticized him during the election, had endorsed him on Tuesday after the election results came in. “I’m excited that when you add up Mitchum’s and my votes, we’re at 51%,” Maldonado stated. “When you have an incumbent Congressman that can’t break 50%, it says people are unhappy with Washington.”

“It’s no secret that this is going to be a very competitive race down to the wire, and the choice is clear: status quo, including bank bailouts, costly regulations, $16 trillion in debt, America losing its credit rating? Or someone going to Washington and working in a bipartisan way to change the direction of our country. We need to start over on Obamacare; we need to make the tax code more simple; we need to lower the tax rate; we need to give small businesses some certainty; we’ve got to lift the confidence of the American consumer, and the current Congress, including our local Congresswoman, is not doing any of that.”

In the 19th Senate District race, Republican Mike Stoker was the top vote-getter, with 45.6% of the vote, ahead of Democrat Hannah-Beth Jackson’s 40%. Oxnard native and Democrat Jason Hodge took 13.5% of the vote.

Stoker said he didn’t know what to expect on Tuesday, given the open primary and the presence of moderate Democrat Hodge in the race.”A lot of Hodge’s message was our message, and polling showed almost 80% of his vote would go to us,” Stoker noted. “I like the direction (Tuesday) night. I think if we run the campaign we’re capable of and stay on message, then we’ll do well. And I’m sure Jackson will divert attention away from the issues with negative campaigning.”

Jackson told the Journal she saw the election results as “two Democrats splitting 52% of the vote in a very low turnout election,” and said Stoker’s “views are too far to the right-wing extreme for this community.” She said she expected more negative television ads from Stoker and said “if the issues prevail, I’ll be elected to state Senate.”

jfoster@syvjournal.com