Sacramento County voters haven't unseated an incumbent county supervisor in more than 40 years.
Yet Supervisor Roberta MacGlashan, in her second term in office, is on the verge of being forced into a runoff election against a political neophyte who ran a low-key campaign.
MacGlashan fell about 240 votes short of gaining the majority she needs to hold office. If the margin stands, she will face business consultant Julie Sams in the November general election.
Results so far give MacGlashan 49 percent of the vote. Sam has 27 percent, and schoolteacher Gary Blenner has 23 percent.
Sams said MacGlashan's failure to gain a majority is an indictment of her record on the board.
"When you have an incumbent with eight years in office, and she can't get more than 50 percent of the vote, it says a lot about her record," Sams said.
MacGlashan, however, pointed to poor turnout and redistricting as reasons for her showing Tuesday.
Election officials said it will take at least two weeks to determine the outcome in the race for District 4, which covers the northeast part of the county. They have to count 84,000 ballots countywide.
Election officials don't know yet how many ballots are left to count in District 4. Assuming an equal amount come from each supervisor district in the county, there would be 16,800 ballots to count in District 4.
Besides the historical strength incumbents have shown in supervisor elections, MacGlashan seemed far better positioned than her opponents, including when it came to fundraising and organization.
MacGlashan spent more than $100,000 on her campaign, including the hiring of a consultant and the purchase of campaign signs and mailers. She also had name recognition, having served as mayor and council member in Citrus Heights before joining the Board of Supervisors.
Sams, by contrast, has never held elective office. The Rancho Murieta resident had said that she decided to run because she was upset how MacGlashan treated her during a hearing on a proposed development in Rancho Murieta.
Sams didn't report any campaign contributions. She said she ran her campaign for a few thousand dollars of her own money.
Sams said voters are eager for change, making campaigning easier.
Blenner agreed. "There is a desire for change in this district," he said. "It is clear from the outcome that a majority of voters rejected Roberta MacGlashan and the special interests that have controlled our local political agenda for the last eight years."
MacGlashan said she doesn't see Tuesday's results as a statement about her record. She said she has no plans to change her "core values." She said poor voter turnout hurt her cause, noting she has done better in past elections when there was higher turnout.
She also blamed redistricting, which changed supervisor districts last year for the first time in 10 years to reflect population shifts.
MacGlashan said she lost Fair Oaks, a political base, in redistricting. She picked up Rancho Murieta, Rio Linda and Elverta all areas where she fared worse in Tuesday's vote.
Early returns show Sams winning all three precincts in Rancho Murieta. That's not surprising, considering that's where she lives.
But MacGlashan also failed to win a majority in seven out of eight precincts in Rio Linda and Elverta.