Orinda Mayor Steve Glazer was the top vote-getter in the State Senate District 7 special primary yesterday but fell well short of the majority needed to win the seat outright, setting the stage for an all-Democrat runoff against second-place finisher Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla.
According to unofficial final Election Night results, Glazer led the way with 31,857 votes, or 32.8% of those cast in the primary held in parts of Alameda and Contra Costa counties, including Pleasanton, according to totals released late Tuesday night by the California Secretary of State's Office.
Bonilla, a Concord Democrat, placed second with 24.9% of the vote, at the end of Election Night.
She held a 2,249-vote lead over fellow Democrat Joan Buchanan (22.6%), a former Tri-Valley Assemblywoman, in the battle for a spot in the May runoff to fill the unexpired State Senate term left vacant after Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) resigned following his election to Congress.
Republican Michaela Hertle, a Pleasanton political newcomer who withdrew from the race after qualifying for the ballot, still received 17% of the vote in the primary, as of Election Night. The final candidate, Concord Democrat and professor Terry Kremin, finished a distant fifth at 2.8%
Voter turnout stood at about 20.1% between the two counties as of Election Night results, which include a vast majority -- but not all -- of the ballots cast.
Had any one candidate received more than 50% of the vote Tuesday, he or she would have won the seat outright. Instead, Glazer and Bonilla are poised for a runoff election May 19.
The winner of the State Senate special election will fill an abbreviated term, the remainder of DeSaulnier's four-year term set to expire at the end of 2016.
Glazer, a 57-year-old in his 11th year on the Orinda City Council, is a small business owner and former adviser to Gov. Jerry Brown. He received an endorsement from Hertle early in the State Senate campaign after she bowed out of the race.
Bonilla, 54, of Concord is in her third term in the State Assembly and is a former Concord mayor and Contra Costa County supervisor. Almost a quarter of the 7th State Senate District falls within Bonilla's 14th Assembly District, which includes parts of northern Contra Costa County, plus Vallejo and Benicia in Solano County.
Bonilla used a strong showing in Contra Costa County to propel her to second place Election Night, outgaining Alamo resident Buchanan by almost 4,900 votes there, or 6.1%. More than three-quarters of registered 7th District voters reside in Contra Costa County.
Buchanan placed second in Alameda County with 28.7%, but it wasn't enough to yield Election Night success. Bonilla actually placed fourth (14.21%) in the Alameda County, overtaken by Hertle who received 18.85% of the vote in her home county despite dropping out.
Glazer finished comfortably ahead in each county, earning 34.76% of the Alameda County vote and 32.22% of the Contra Costa County vote.
Contra Costa had the most voter participation in the primary, standing at 21.5% (almost 80,000 of the eligible 371,805 voters).
Alameda County turnout came in at roughly 15.6% (18,050 voters of the registered 115,690). Less than 20% of those participating voters cast their ballots at the polls Tuesday, with the remaining 80%-plus voting by mail.
The combined cost of holding the primary election was estimated at $2.4 million, according to election officials from the two counties. They estimate similar costs for the May runoff.
The unofficial election results include early vote-by-mail tallies and totals reported by 100% of the precincts on Election Night. The election figures will likely change as final vote-by-mail ballots, provisional ballots and other qualifying ballots are processed, according to the California Secretary of State.
County election officials have 10 days to certify final results from the primary.
The 7th District includes Pleasanton, Livermore and Sunol at the south end, Brentwood, Antioch, Pittsburg and Concord to the north, Orinda, Lafayette and Walnut Creek to the west, and the San Ramon Valley.
For more details about the unofficial Election Night results, visit the state website.