California Republican Craig Huey appears to have won a surprise victory Tuesday by securing a place in the runoff in the special election for former Rep. Jane Harman's (D) seat.

The wealthy businessman, who put a half-million dollars of his own money into his bid, was in second place early Wednesday morning after 100 percent of 36th district precincts had reported.


But State Secretary of State Debra Bowen (D), who trailed Huey by 206 votes, refused to concede the race.

"This has been a very spirited campaign and it remains very close. There are 9,811 ballots that still need to be processed — more than enough to make up the difference. We are confident Debra Bowen will be in the runoff," Dan Chavez, Bowen's campaign manager, said in a statement.

If the results remain unchanged, Huey will join Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn (D), who was the first-place finisher Tuesday, in the July 12 runoff.

Harman announced Feb. 7 that she was stepping down to become head of the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, a Washington-based research institution. Her decision touched off a special-election race for the heavily Democratic district, the first congressional race to use California's new primary system.

Under the new rules, the top-two vote-getters advance out of the open primary to the general election on July 12. Had a candidate broken 50 percent Tuesday, he or she would have won the seat outright.

Anti-war activist Marcy Winograd (D) finished fourth, with less than 10 percent of the vote.