REDMOND, OR -- After recounting more than 9,000 ballots, the Deschutes County Clerk officially declared Jack Zika the winner of the Republican nomination for House District 53, Thursday. Proving "every vote counts," the Redmond realtor beat political activist Ben Schimmoller by just two votes.
"I've been telling everybody I feel like I've gone through four elections," Zika told KBND News shortly after hearing the results. After the May 15 Primary, unofficial results had Zika up by 11 votes. Then, on May 30, contested and write-in ballots were counted, shrinking his lead to two, over Schimmoller. The election was certified June fourth, but the incredibly tight margin triggered a recount, which was conducted Thursday. "Everything turned out, so I'm happy that the two-vote tally stood. And, that's a good testament to [County Clerk] Nancy Blankenship over at the county that she did everything right. The totals came out just like she had it."
Zika acknowledges some may question the close margin, but he says Schimmoller trusts the system, "We heard that they're not going to appeal. At least that's what they said, and they'd accept the results as they are." He adds, "They had a system in place and the computers did a good job; the counters did a good job, and there was no disputing how they did it and the process they went through to count all these ballots. I think that the totals are solid."
He's now looking ahead to the General Election in November when he takes on Democrat businesswoman Eileen Kiely. The winner will replace retiring State Representative Gene Whisnant
(R-Sunriver), who has held the seat since 2003.