Mention the Long Count and those with a sense of sporting history will immediately think of the Gene Tunney — Jack Dempsey heavyweight title fight in 1927. Say the Long Count to those with a sense of California politics and they might think of Tom McClintock.

State Senator McClintock is waiting out a Long Count of votes in the Fourth Congressional District. As of this writing he currently leads his Democratic opponent, Charlie Brown, by 928 votes out of 320,334 counted. McClintock’s race for Congress is one of three candidate races in California that have yet to be resolved over a week after the election.

What is odd about this is that McClintock is not only a veteran legislator—he’s a veteran of the Long Count. This is the third time he has had to wait out election results in a nip-and-tuck election. In both the state Controller’s race of 1994 and 2002 McClintock had to wait until after Election Day to see if he won the job. He lost both times, first to Kathleen Connell by 2.3%, then to Steve Westly by less thee-tenths of one percent, a mere 16,811 votes out of over six-and-a-half million cast.

Why does McClintock face these close elections? There are probably a number of reasons related to the individuality of each race. In 2002, he received little help from his party, as I wrote in a Los Angeles Daily News commentary at the time. He often faces much better funded opponents. This year he was facing a Democratic wave in a district where he may not have been as familiar to the voters.

Whatever the reasons, it has to be tough waiting for the Long Count to come in. But McClintock is philosophical about the situations he has faced. “If you stand for principle, you’ll lose some elections and the ones you win will be close ones, but they will mean something.”

McClintock says if his level of support in all counties within the district hold to his Election Day levels, he will win. He noted, so far, he is performing above Election Day levels in all counties.

Maybe for McClintock, the third time’s the charm.