SACRAMENTO (AP) — Two Democrats on Wednesday appeared headed to a May runoff for an open state Senate seat in the San Francisco Bay Area following a bruising primary that saw special interest groups pour in $2.1 million in campaign funding.
With all precincts reporting in District 7, Orinda Mayor Steve Glazer had about 33 percent of the votes compared to 25 percent for state Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla.
Former Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan of Alamo trailed Bonilla by about 2,200 votes, with an unknown number of mail-in ballots left to count after the Tuesday election.
Unions spent heavily in the race. They dislike Glazer because of his work for a Chamber of Commerce-funded committee that unseated incumbent legislative Democrats, for his call for a ban on transit strikes, and for making public questionnaires sent to candidates by special interest groups.
Glazer, a former adviser to Gov. Jerry Brown, said in a statement late Tuesday that his lead is “positive evidence that voters want a fiscally responsible bipartisan problem-solver” and that the unions “had an impact but failed.”
The lone Republican candidate, Michaela Hertle, who dropped her bid less than a week after starting it but too late to take her name off the ballot, still received 17 percent of the votes. A fourth Democrat, Terry Kremin, had 3 percent.
The election was a replay of a nasty Assembly race last year in which unions spent heavily to defeat Glazer, leading to a Republican victory in a district where Democrats held an 8-point registration edge.
Meanwhile, in the 37th state Senate District in Orange County, Republican John Moorlach was victorious, but it was unclear if he would clear the 50 percent threshold and avoid a runoff. There were still at least 2,200 mail-in ballots and provisional votes left to count.
The former county supervisor had 50.3 percent of the vote Wednesday, according to unofficial results from the Orange County registrar’s office. Republican Assemblyman Don Wagner of Irvine had 44.1 percent despite a major fundraising advantage.
“It would be nice to get this over with tonight,” Moorlach told the Orange County Register on Tuesday. “We have to wait and see and enjoy the nail-biter.”
Wagner said he began the campaign at a disadvantage because Moorlach is well-known in the district.
“I’m not crestfallen,” Wagner said. “Worst-case scenario is I finish out my term in the Assembly and go back to private life.”
In the 21st state Senate District covering parts of San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties, former Republican state Sen. Sharon Runner was the only candidate on the ballot and received all but write-in votes. Her victory came three years after she underwent a double lung transplant made necessary by a rare autoimmune disease.
“I feel great,” Runner told the Los Angeles Times. “It’s pretty miraculous to be able to come back again and serve.”
A former assemblywoman, Runner, 60, was elected to the Senate in 2011 in a special election. She did not seek re-election in 2012 because of her health.