State Assembly Candidate Phil Paule declared himself a "proven front-runner" Wednesday in the all-Republican race to represent the 67th District.
Paule received 9,438—28.01 percent—of votes from constituents in the district that encompasses most of Southwest Riverside County. Murrieta, parts of Temecula, French Valley, Wildomar, Lake Elsinore, Canyon Lake, Meadowbrook and Menifee are all included in the 67th District.
"I am honored to have the support of the voters of Riverside County," said Paule, in an emailed statement. "I am proud of the work my campaign has done and look forward to victory in November."
Lake Elsinore City Councilwoman Melissa Melendez will likely run against Paule in the November general election. Melendez captured the second-highest number of votes with 7,851, or 23.3 percent.
Melendez and fellow Lake Elsinore Council member Bob Magee were neck-and-neck as , until she pulled ahead.
Magee garnered 6,724 votes, or 19.19 percent, while Murrieta School Board Member Ken Dickson got 6,347 votes—18.83 percent. Teacher William Akana received 3,340 votes, or 9.91 percent.
Riverside County Registrar of Voters Office advised there were still nearly 50,000 ballots to count. Those included provisional, mail-in ballots and damaged ballots. Those counts were expected to be released by 6 p.m. Friday.
In a statement posted online, Dickson thanked his supporters and all those who made it out to the polls.
"Though the results weren't what we were looking for we are pleased with the effort and grateful for the votes we did get," Dickson said. "I would like to congratulate Phil and Melissa for being the final two. To Bob and Will I would just like to say great job. I pray that our district be blessed with the right candidate with the constituent’s best interest always as the priority. God Bless you."
Paule, who is married with two sons and lives in French Valley, has served as the district director for U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa for eight years. Paule is endorsed by Issa and former state Senators Ray Haynes and Dick Mountjoy.
Paule said his focus in the Legislature would be "restoring California's business climate, building much needed water and transportation infrastructure, and reforming the education system," according to his campaign website.
Some of Melendez' stated priorities in office would be "no new taxes, stop runaway government spending, and end illegal immigration," according to her campaign website.