Also, Perez chose not to abide by the state's $5.4 million campaign spending cap, so he couldn't place a candidate statement in the official voter information guide. He never came near hitting the cap, and when voters consulted the guide, the only Democrat they learned about was Yee.
"That is very important in off-year elections. Often times, the people who do bother to vote, that's the only thing they're going to look at," said Jessica Levinson, an election law and governance expert at Loyola Law School.
But Perez goes into the recount looking stronger, given the money he can raise and spend.
Any voter can request a recount in any number of counties in any order, but he or she must pay the costs daily; if the recount changes the election's result, the money is refunded. The request can be for a machine recount or for a by-hand review by election officials. And if the recount changes the tally, the other candidate can then demand a recount, too.
Perez asked for hand recounts in 15 counties where he beat Yee -- in order: Lake, Napa, San Mateo, Stanislaus, Merced, Fresno, Kings, Tulare, Kern, Ventura, Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside and Imperial -- at an estimated $3 million cost. If he comes out on top and Yee has the option to request her own recount, "she's not going to have the funds to be able to do this," said Rodriguez, who worked on Perez's 2008 Assembly race.
Levinson said that's "very distressing, because getting votes counted should have absolutely nothing to do with financial ability."
"A recount should be a full recount, and it's troublesome to think about cherry-picking votes," she said. "It looks like you're playing politics with the most important right that we have to exercise our power in a democracy."