Beth Gaines and Ken Cooley knew Wednesday that they'd won a spot on the November ballot for a Sacramento-area Assembly seat but they couldn't be sure who they'll run against.
The 6th and 8th Assembly districts were left hanging, with second-place finishers to be decided by the counting of an undetermined number of dropped-off, mailed-in or provisional ballots received on election day.
Under California's new top-two primary system, the two highest vote-getters in legislative and congressional primary elections will square off in November, even if they're from the same party.
Gaines, an incumbent Republican assemblywoman from Rocklin, doesn't yet know whether she'll be challenged by a Democrat or a Republican in the 6th District.
Democrat Regy Bronner, a retired business executive, has no hope of overcoming Gaines for first, but he held a lead of less than one percentage point Wednesday over Republican Andy Pugno for the second spot.
The three candidates seek the seat of a newly drawn Assembly district based in Placer County but extending into Folsom, Fair Oaks, Orangevale and El Dorado Hills.
Placer County had an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 ballots left uncounted Wednesday, but the number affecting the 6th Assembly District was not known.
Pugno, an attorney, declined to comment Wednesday on his prospects or on a pledge he made in March to avoid a GOP slugfest in the general election by stepping aside if Gaines beat him in the primary.
"If I came in behind Beth Gaines, I would honor the expression of Republican voters and endorse her campaign and not actively campaign myself," Pugno said at the time.
Cooley, a Democrat, legislative aide and longtime Rancho Cordova councilman, could relax Wednesday while two GOP challengers sweated it out in the 8th District.
Cooley will be opposed either by Peter Tateishi or Barbara Ortega, with the former holding a 1.3 percentage point lead for second place.
None of the contenders in the two local Assembly districts threw in the towel Wednesday.
"You know what? We'll see," Ortega said when asked about her chances. "Everybody's saying it's still too close to call."
Ortega is the owner of a small consulting business, while Tateishi is chief of staff to Republican Rep. Dan Lungren of Gold River.
Tateishi said that if Ortega overcomes his narrow lead for second place, he will support her against Cooley in November.
The entire 8th District lies in Sacramento County, where an estimated 84,000 ballots remain uncounted. It was not certain Wednesday how many of those ballots were from voters within the legislative district.
Cooley, Tateishi and Ortega are vying for the seat of a newly drawn Assembly district that extends from Citrus Heights to the county line south of Wilton.
Here is the fall lineup for other Sacramento-area legislative races:
Assembly District 5: Two Republicans, Rico Oller and Frank Bigelow, square off in November.
Assembly District 1: Republicans Brian Dahle and Rick Bosetti face off, unless the latter's nearly two-percentage-point lead for second place is overtaken by Democrat Robert Meacher.
Assembly District 3: Republican Assemblyman Dan Logue against Democrat Charles Rouse.
Assembly District 4: Democratic Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada against Republican John Munn.
Assembly District 7: Democratic Assemblyman Roger Dickinson against Republican Jonathan Zachariou.
Assembly District 9: Democratic Assemblyman Richard Pan against Republican Tony Amador.
State Senate District 1: Republican Sen. Ted Gaines against Democrat Julie Griffith-Flatter.
State Senate District 3: Democratic Sen. Lois Wolk, unopposed.
State Senate District 5: Democrat Cathleen Galgiani faces off against a current colleague in the Assembly, Republican Bill Berryhill.