Cook leads congressional race

Imus trails by 12,510 votes

By BROOKE EDWARDS STAGGS, Staff Writer

Republican Paul Cook took an early lead in San Bernardino County to become congressman for the 8th District, with 60.81 percent of the vote as of 8:15 p.m., according to preliminary results released by the San Bernardino County Registrar of Voters on Tuesday night.

“It’s way too early to call but obviously we’re happy to see these early results,” John Sobel, chief of staff for Cook, said by phone after the initial results. Cook, an assemblyman for the 65th District since 2006, watched the results come in from his victory party in his hometown of Yucca Valley.

Republican Gregg Imus, a homebuilder from Lake Arrowhead, trailed with 39.19 percent of the vote, with 140 of 868 precincts reporting.

The two are competing to represent the newly drawn 8th Congressional District, which encompasses the High Desert, Yucaipa, half of Redlands and parts of Inyo and Mono counties.

During the open primary race in June, the two Republican contenders advanced to the November election after beating out a field that included 11 other candidates. It marked one of California’s closest 2012 primary races, with Imus surprising many insiders by garnering 15.6 percent of the vote while Cook had 15.3 percent.

As a Tea Party candidate, Imus sought to follow a similar path as Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, who was elected in 2010 with no prior government experience. Imus served as campaign manager for Donnelly in 2010 and later worked in Sacramento as his chief of staff, along with a career as a custom homebuilder throughout Southern California.

Cook served 26 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, fighting in combat in Vietnam and earning the Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts. He retired as a colonel and later became an educator, teaching political science and history in colleges.

Both candidates touted similar positions on a number of key issues, including pledging not to raise taxes, supporting 2nd Amendment rights, opposing abortion and opposing same-sex marriage.

Cook, who raised roughly four times as much money as Imus for his campaign, sought to distinguish himself by discussing the difficulty “extreme” candidates would have in getting things done in a sharply divided Congress. Meanwhile, Imus stood by Tea Party platforms of the sanctity of the Constitution and sharp cuts to government spending.

Check back later for updated results, with new counts due for release by 10:30 p.m.

Brooke Edwards Staggs may be reached at (760) 955-5358 or at BEdwards@VVDailyPress.com.