Neil Nisperos and Benjamin Demers, Staff Writers
Posted: 06/12/2012 09:45:09 PM PDT

Brad Mitzelfelt has about six months left as a member of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors, but after that his future is uncertain.

Mitzelfelt suffered a crushing defeat in last week’s primary election in the 8th Congressional District. The supervisor finished fifth of 13 candidates with about 10.8 percent of the vote.

The outcome surprised some because of Mitzelfelt’s time representing the large 1st Supervisorial District, which encompasses a good share of newly drawn District 8. The district takes in a wide-ranging area, including Victorville, Barstow and Needles in San Bernardino County as well as all of Inyo and Mono counties.

“I think people who were familiar with my work as supervisor were there for me, but it just wasn’t our race,” Mitzelfelt said.

His campaign touted his efforts as a supervisor in improving fire protection, gang suppression and intervention as well as securing hundreds of millions of dollars for infrastructure construction.

Those highlights, as well as his time on an array of boards and commissions in the area, did not sway District 8 voters.

The top two spots were captured by Tea Party conservative Gregg Imus, with 15.5 percent, and Assemblyman Paul Cook, R-Yucaipa, with 15.3 percent of the vote. In the new primary system, the top two vote-getters move on to the general election, regardless of party.

Imus said Mitzelfelt was one of only a handful of local politicos who called him after the election.

Mitzelfelt “congratulated me and said that’s how grass- roots campaigns are supposed to be run,” Imus said.

Mitzelfelt said he was impressed with Imus and compared his campaign with that run by Tim Donnelly, who captured the 59th Assembly District seat in 2010 and was the top vote-getter last week in the new 33rd Assembly District. Imus was Donnelly’s campaign manager in 2010.

“I really like to see that when a private citizen can organize a grass-roots campaign and win – it’s kind of gratifying in a way to see that,” Mitzelfelt said.

The supervisor said he heard political observers early on, saying Cook would be difficult to push out of the top two because of his name recognition in District 8’s southwestern region.

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