On politics in the Golden State
June 7, 2012 | 5:24 pm

The races aren’t quite over yet in a handful of California primary contests that were so close their outcomes may hinge on the ballots left uncounted on election night Tuesday.

As county elections officials work through the thousands of remaining ballots, candidates in three congressional races and more than a dozen Assembly contests are waiting to see whether they will be on the ballot for the Nov. 6 general election.

Under the state’s new “top two” primary system, only the first- and second-place finishers in the primary can advance to the fall election.

Officials have less than a month to finish their tallies. Yet to be counted are mailed ballots that arrived by Election Day but were too late to be included in the tallies posted after the polls closed that night and so-called provisional ballots, which require checking for voter eligibility or duplication.

Among the contests too close to call is the 13-candidate race in the inland 8th Congressional District, which includes the San Bernardino County mountains and deserts and Inyo and Mono counties. There, four candidates were bunched near the top: Republican Assemblyman Paul Cook of Yucca Valley, who was in first place; Lake Arrowhead home-builder and anti-illegal-immigration activist Gregg Imus, also a Republican; Barstow Democrat Jackie Conaway; and Phil Liberatore, a Republican tax consultant based in Whittier.

In San Diego County’s 52nd Congressional District, Democrats Lori Saldana, a former assemblywoman, and former San Diego City Councilman Scott Peters are battling for the second spot on the ballot. Peters finished 645 votes ahead of Saldana on election night. The eventual winner will face Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-Carlsbad) in November.

The outcomes also are uncertain in several Los Angeles-area Assembly contests.

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