FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) --Fresno County Supervisor Henry Perea looked to be cruising to victory in the primary race for Fresno Mayor as of 11:00 p.m. Tuesday night. He had hoped to avoid a run off with city Council member Lee Brand, but it looks like he fell a bit short of the more than 50-percent majority needed to do that.
Perea's lead is substantial and he is looking forward to the November general election.
"I think it would be a spirited race with two good men with different visions for Fresno-- actually, I would start debating him next week, I would be ready to go," said Perea.
Our reporter asked, "Where will the H. Spees voters go, to you or Lee, or will they split?"
"Well you know, I think-- those voters will split more in my favor, only because we've been tracking some of the demographics of that vote and there's a good share of urban type voters," Perea answered.
H. Spees is the third major candidate in this five-way race . He came in with about 17-percent.
The November runoff between Perea and Brand will likely be an expensive race. The combined Mayoral campaigns have already spent more than $1 million to get this far right and Brand and Perea will now have a lot of campaigning and fundraising to see who will be the next mayor of Fresno.
At Brands party, he was quietly confident this night will end with him in position to become the next mayor of Fresno.
Even though he's a distant second as of Tuesday night, he seems to be a lock for a runoff and he believes that puts him in the driver's seat.
Brand tells Action News he had a pact with fellow conservative H Spees that whoever didn't make the runoff would endorse the other, so he expects to see H Spees voters as well, which puts him neck-and-neck with Perea.
"I guarantee I'll get them-- 100-percent. I think that the voters of Fresno are going to have a clear choice of who they want as the next leader. There are some differences between Henry and myself and they can decide, and I'll defend my record any day."
Brand said that record shows he has handled the city's finances with care.
At least two of his fellow council members visited his party Tuesday night, as did current mayor Ashley Swearingin, but she was noncommittal when asked if she'd endorse Brand to be her replacement.