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“I’m hanging in there.”

That was Stephen Whitburn, speaking with me a few minutes ago about the preliminary voting results released earlier.

Whitburn wasn’t optimistic when I asked about the preliminary totals, which show Ron Roberts leading, 58.8 percent to 41 percent, with 17.3 percent of precincts reporting.

“The percentage difference looks to be a pretty steep hurdle to overcome,” Whitburn said. “That said, we always expect to do better with late absentee voters and voters at the polls.”

Whitburn, the election’s Democratic challenger, said he expects to make up some ground on Roberts, the Republican incumbent, before the end of the night, but didn’t say whether he expected it would be enough to win.

“I would have expected the early returns to be somewhat closer than this,” he said.

Please contact Keegan Kyle directly at keegan.kyle@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5668 and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/keegankyle.

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