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Sheriff Bill Gore has taken an early and significant lead among absentee voters and appears to be headed for an outright victory since early  absentee voter patterns often mirror those of the general voter population.

“We are ecstatic, we are over the moon!” exclaimed a breathless Marla Marshall, a top aide to Gore, minutes after learning about the mail-in voting results.

With 13 percent of precincts reporting, Gore received 60 percent of the vote, compared to 20 percent for Sheriff’s Lt. Jim Duffy and 18 percent for former Undersheriff Jay LaSuer.

Voters apparently were not distracted by prominent themes of the anti-Gore campaign — that he wasn’t willing to enforce immigration law, was blocking rights of gun owners, wasn’t taking advantage of jail space, wasn’t enforcing 70,000 outstanding warrants, failed to prevent the Sept. 11 attacks and botched the 1992 Ruby Ridge standoff.

“Clearly the vote was based on stability and experience, and the campaign was able to get that message out, and it resonated with the people,” said veteran political consultant John Dadian.

“Especially in the final days of the campaign, plenty of mud was thrown but it didn’t stick.”

As appointed incumbent and top fundraiser, Gore was widely considered a frontrunner leading up to the primary. He’s had a long law enforcement career, including 32 years with the FBI, plus a master’s degree and a long list of prominent backers, including San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis and Gore’s predecessor, the immensely popular retired Sheriff Bill Kolender.

But he was also a wild card, having never been elected. Gore was appointed sheriff a year ago when Kolender left office midway through a four-year term to care for his ailing wife. Gore has had to deal with the constant suspicion that his takeover was engineered by Kolender and other members of downtown’s elite establishment to give him the advantage of incumbency.

Fundraising certainly played a prominent role in the victory.

Gore crushed his opponents in fundraising, raising a total of about $425,000, including independent spending by organizations, versus $150,000 for Duffy and $60,000 for LaSuer.


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