MARTINEZ (CBS/AP) — Orinda Mayor Steve Glazer defeated fellow Democrat Susan Bonilla in a special election for a state Senate seat representing the east San Francisco Bay area.
With all precincts reporting Tuesday night and about 110,000 votes counted in the district that includes parts of Contra Costa and Alameda counties, Glazer had 54.6 percent to 45.4 for Bonilla.
“Our campaign struck a chord with voters frustrated by the gridlock and dysfunction in Sacramento,” Glazersaid in a statement after the vote. “They want leaders who are more pragmatic than partisan.” He promised to be an “independent thinker” in the legislature.
The race between Glazer, a longtime adviser to Gov. Jerry Brown, and Bonilla, an assemblywoman from Concord, drew lots of attention and money — $7 million. Much of the spending came from outside groups that set up their own committees to fund attack mailers and TV commercials on both sides.
The candidates positioned themselves as moderate Democrats in the mold of Brown, who did not endorse either.
Bonilla had the backing of the California Democratic Party and labor unions. They were upset that Glazer worked for a Chamber of Commerce-funded committee in 2012 that sought to unseat incumbent Democrats in the Legislature and replace them with Democrats considered friendlier to business interests.
In recent years, Glazer has repeatedly called to ban BART workers from striking, like they did in 2013.
Democrats have nearly 44 percent of the registered voters in the 7th Senate District and Glazer sought to attract Republicans and independents.
Bonilla campaign spokesman Josh Pulliam said those voters were the key to Glazer’s success Tuesday.
“Glazer and his supporters had a singular purpose which was to bury the Democratic voters in as much negative mail as possible, and to prop up Glazer to the Republican voters, and they were successful,” Pulliam told The Associated Press.
Glazer will replace Mark DeSaulnier, who was elected to Congress, and will have to run again next year when the seat comes up for re-election.
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