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Leland.JPGCharges of corruption and gun-running conspiracy notwithstanding, almost a tenth of California voters Tuesday thought suspended state Sen. Leland Yee should become secretary of state.

Yee was in third place with 9.8 percent of the vote in the eight-candidate field for the state's top elections officer. Democrat state Sen. Alex Padilla and Republican Pete Peterson, who leads an education institute at Pepperdine University, secured the top spots. Thousands of ballots remain to be counted.

Yee was arrested in late March and indicted several days later as part of a sweeping investigation into organized crime. Federal authorities say Yee traded official acts for campaign donations and cash as well as tried to engineer a weapons-buying deal with an undercover federal agent.

Unofficial results show that Yee got solid support across much of the state, with some of his highest backing in and around his Northern California district. In San Francisco, where the media's coverage of the longtime elected official's arrest and indictment has been intense, Yee received 9.8 percent of the vote – mirroring his statewide share.

Maybe Yee's ballot statement helped win over voters.

"Under the Constitution, the Secretary of State's job is to empower Californians to govern California, to guarantee fair elections, expose special interests, and prevent corruption," Yee wrote. "I am the Democrat who will represent everyone. I hope to be your Secretary of State."

PHOTO: State Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, speaks to members of the press in his office at the Capitol in Sacramento on February 14, 2013. The Sacramento Bee/Randall Benton


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