The judicial races in Tuesday's primary resulted in an outright win, a runoff and a toss-up.
Only deputy district attorney David Berry was assured of a seat on the San Diego Superior Court bench as he garnered 56 percent of the vote to defeat Superior Court Commissioner Terrie Roberts for Office No. 24.
El Cajon trial attorney Jim Miller and deputy district attorney Robert Amador were the top two vote-getters for Office No. 25 – the only three-man race of the night – to advance to a runoff in November.
But the most thrilling contest was the battle for Office No. 34. Out of nearly 300,000 votes cast, a mere 56 votes separated constitutional law attorney Gary Kreep and deputy district attorney Garland Peed.
There are still 135,000 absentee ballots remaining to be counted, according to the San Diego County Registrar of Voters. The next vote totals are scheduled to be reported Thursday at 5 p.m.
Kreep currently has 147,739 votes while Peed has 147,683.
"Garland started out (the campaign) with a big advantage," said Kreep, who entered the race late. "He had $37,000 in the bank and all sorts of endorsements. He had judges and the downtown political establishment behind him.
"I started out with no money, no campaign, no nothing. That's why the early absentee ballots broke, in a small way, for Garland. The later absentee votes, and the voters, broke, in a small way, for me because I got my campaign geared up and did a lot of voter outreach."
Peed was ahead by about 1,250 votes in early returns, but Kreep slowly closed the gap before taking a slight lead.
Peed remains hopeful he can overcome the small deficit before the election results get certified on July 3.
"I'm optimistic of his chances to pull ahead because he was ahead on the absentee ballots, and that's what's left," said Jennifer Tierney, Peed's campaign consultant. "It's going to be tight and go right down to the wire."
In the race for Office No. 25, Miller received 37.5 percent of the vote (114,297 votes), while Amador garnered 34.9 percent (103,573).
Deputy city attorney George Schaefer finished third with 28.6 percent and 87,251 votes.
"I can't tell you how elated I am for a private lawyer to beat out a deputy DA and a city attorney," Miller said. "(And) for Mr. Kreep to be ahead of Mr. Peed, I think the message that I started in 2010 is seeping into the public, that you can't just have former prosecutors go on to be judges.
"You need a judge with more experience. There are five areas of law, and I'm the only guy to have practiced in all five."
Amador disputed the criticism that public sector attorneys are not well rounded.
"Trial experience and understanding the rules of evidence cut across all areas of the law," he said. "And you need trial experience to be in a courtroom handling cases."
Amador said Tuesday's results were great.
"You have people who were endorsed by the two political parties," he said, "and I came out a close second, which means the voters looked at the qualifications and found qualifications very important and will take them into consideration for the general election.
"I think when we have the complete voter turnout for the general election, I'll be elected to the Superior Court."