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Richard Bloom expanded his lead over sitting Assemblywoman Betsy Butler from just 79 votes to 430 in tallies released Friday afternoon by Los Angeles County.

The two Democrats are separated by just a quarter of a percentage point in a nailbiter for Los Angeles County's newly drawn 50th Assembly District seat.

Bloom, Santa Monica mayor, has 87,270 votes in the latest count. Butler, seeking a second legislative term, has 86,840 votes.

Los Angeles has about 155,000 ballots remaining countywide. An unknown number of those ballots, a small portion, is expected to be from the 50th Assembly District, which represents about 7 percent of Los Angeles County's voters.

Bloom said Friday that the race remains undecided as vote-counting continues -- and that tension builds as the gap grows or shrinks.

"Unfortunately, this is like being on being on 'Who Wants To Be a Millionaire,' except that they don't let you step out of the game, collect your winnings and leave," Bloom quipped. "You have to go to the next level."

Whoever wins the seat will be part of a Democratic supermajority in the Legislature. In the Assembly, Democrats will control 54 of 80 seats; in the Senate, 29 of 40.

* Updated at 5:10 p.m. Friday with Richard Bloom's comment and an estimate of ballots remaining countywide.



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