Leland Yee, the Democratic state senator from San Francisco who was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of taking bribes and conspiring to broker an international arms deal, finished third in a field of eight candidates for California secretary of state in Tuesday's primary.

No, really. As of now, more than 320,000 votes have been counted for Yee -- a number that will rise at least slightly as registrars around the state tally the final wave of vote-by-mail and provisional ballots. Yee had announced that he was dropping out of the race to be California's top elections and political transparency watchdog right after he was charged with crimes that could put him in prison for life. But it was too late to remove his name from the ballot.

We wondered how it must feel to be one of the five candidates who came in behind Yee.

How to explain Yee's strong finish despite widespread coverage of his scandal?

1) Some voters have a perverse sense of humor, and they don't care much who the secretary of state will be anyway.

2) This could help prove the old axiom that there's no such thing as bad publicity. Then again, that didn't help Mary Hayashi.

3) Some voters live under rocks, without access to the Internet, radio, television or newspapers. Then again, he still came in third in San Francisco, where news of his arrest and indictment was practically inescapable.

4) Some voters don't think the charges against Yee are true. (Note to those voters: Read the federal agent's affidavit supporting the charges. It's a barnburner!)

Our other thought was that the real winner in this primary was James Lassart, Yee's attorney. He must feel at least a little better today about his future prospects in picking a jury.

Misconduct ruling may be overturned for DA's aide

The California Supreme Court appears poised to issue a ruling that would patch the reputation of the second-most powerful person in the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office, sources say.

Jay Boyarsky, District Attorney Jeff Rosen's right-hand man, was slammed in late 2012 by an appellate court for engaging in a "pervasive pattern of misconduct" in a trial.

The appellate court ruled that Boyarsky, the chief assistant district attorney, erred by using deceptive or reprehensible means of persuasion -- including asking improper questions and making improper arguments and comments -- to the point where defendant Dariel Shazier was denied a fair trial in a close case. The court then reversed the jury's judgment against Shazier, a felon accused of being a sexually violent predator.

It was the third time the case foundered. The jury hung in the first trial. The second attempt, by former prosecutor Ben Field, also was reversed on the grounds of prosecutorial misconduct.

The state Attorney General's Office last year appealed Boyarsky's drubbing, issuing a statement contending that "none of the cited instances constituted prosecutorial misconduct."

At a May 29 hearing, the state Supreme Court appeared to be leaning toward finding that two of Boyarsky's comments at trial constituted "harmless error," meaning misconduct not serious enough to warrant reversing the verdict, sources said.

If the sources are correct, then the state Supreme Court may well strike down the appellate decision, allowing Shazier to be involuntarily committed to a state mental hospital, where he has been held pending the outcome.

Bill aims to erase the 'stain' of Proposition 187

Twenty years ago, California voters approved a divisive ballot measure that barred illegal immigrants from most public services, including schooling and health care.

Though federal courts later deemed Proposition 187 unconstitutional, it has remained on the books, enshrined in state statute all this time.

State Sen. Kevin de Leon got his start in politics organizing against the initiative, and on Wednesday, the Los Angeles Democrat introduced legislation that would strike the discriminatory policy from the record and "erase its stain" for good.

Acknowledging that California has made tremendous progress on immigration reform over the past several years, de Leon said it was his duty to set the record straight on Proposition 187 after learning from his staff earlier this year that it remains on the books.

"California will lead the country forward to a brighter day where immigrants are treated with dignity and given an opportunity to thrive," said de Leon, who unveiled SB396 at a Sacramento news conference where he also called for comprehensive immigration reform.

But the proposal is largely symbolic.

De Leon conceded that illegal immigrants in California will be treated no differently under the law whether the legislation is signed or not.

Though never fully implemented, Proposition 187 had a lasting effect on immigrant communities across the state.

"Still today, the immigrant population fears interacting with government officials and, as a result, is often hesitant to become civically engaged and cooperate with the police," de Leon said in a statement.

June 23 is the 20th anniversary of the day Proposition 187 qualified for the statewide ballot. Both the Senate and the Assembly are planning ceremonies to reflect on that chapter in the state's history.

Speedy delivery? Board of education moves fast

In its own version of speed dating, the Santa Clara County Board of Education seems to be on a fast track to find a permanent superintendent of county schools by July 1.

Yes, this is the same board that took fall, winter and spring to usher out Xavier De La Torre as county schools chief.

After De La Torre skipped town in March, board President Leon Beauchman announced a compressed schedule for soliciting and culling candidates. The board received free search services from Iowa-based Ray and Associates, the same firm that produced De La Torre in 2012. Because he stayed less than two years, the firm conducted a new search at no charge.

The posting drew about 200 applicants -- no surprise since the board has been paying its chiefs about $300,000. The list was narrowed down to about a dozen names, trustee Grace Mah said. In the past month, the seven-member board has been interviewing six finalists -- in six special meetings in addition to a regular one.

No word so far on their identities, nor where they are from. Meanwhile, the board reportedly is reviewing the legality of the multiyear contracts that the ex-supe cemented for seven of his top staff before leaving. The new chief's salary will be negotiated once an offer is made.

Internal Affairs is an offbeat look at state and local politics. This week's items were written by Josh Richman, Tracey Kaplan, Jessica Calefati, Sharon Noguchi and Paul Rogers. Send tips to internalaffairs@mercurynews.com, or call 408-920-5782.