Voters gave one local Republican politician the green light in the run to fill the vacant seat of former 10th District U.S. Rep. Ellen Tauscher, but the red light to another as Lt. Gov. John Garamendi takes the Democratic Party lead.
Tuesday's special primary election saw San Ramon Republican David Harmer push through a decisive victory while freshman Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, an Alamo Democrat, fell to the wide name recognition and experience of Lt. Gov. John Garamendi.
Garamendi jumped out to a slight lead over nearest challenger Mark DeSaulnier and kept the lead all of the way to the end, securing 26.15 percent of the vote, compared to DeSaulnier's 17.5 percent. Joan Buchanan, whose 15th Assembly District includes part of Pleasanton, came in third with 12 percent.
"I want to thank our hard working team of volunteers," Garamendi said in a message posted on his Web site. "You spent countless hours knocking on doors, making phone calls and ensuring your presence at events throughout the district. Success would not have been possible without all of you and you have my deepest gratitude."
"It's been a hard fought campaign and now that the primary is over, we must unite as Democrats," he added.
Poll watchers throughout the 10th District were put on hold Tuesday as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger issued an order stating that crews fighting the Southern California wildfires be given an opportunity to vote. As a result of keeping those polls open, vote tallies could not be announced until after 10 p.m.
However, due to the low voter turnout, estimated to be 29.9 percent in Contra Costa County, the clerks in the four counties that comprise District 10 were able to get the ballots counted and have final figures announced by 11 p.m.
On the Republican side, David Harmer, a San Ramon attorney, garnered the lion's share of the GOP votes, with 20.46 percent of the vote. Although far ahead of the pack, he was followed by Chris Bunch with 12 percent, Gary Clift with 3.99 percent and John Toth with 3.22 percent.
Surrounded by supporters and well wishers at a campaign party in Walnut Creek, Harmer said he was pleased with the result but not overly surprised.
"We're confident, I'd say we're even enthused," he laughed. "We've been working for three months on this."
A first time political candidate, Harmer focused on a campaign of fiscal conservancy with the slogan "No More Bailouts" on his campaign literature.
"I have four important reasons for caring about what happens in congress," he said. "My kids. I've taught them to work before they play, to save before they spend, but Congress doesn't do that." He likened the increasing national debt to his daughter graduating from college with medical school loans but no medical degree.
He said that in the months leading up to the Nov. 3 General Election there will be few changes in his campaign. "Our message will be the same and our methods will be the same."
For Democratic candidate and Assemblywoman Buchanan, the mood was weary but still excited at her Walnut Creek headquarters as volunteers and staffers began the process of winding down the campaign. The candidate was unavailable for comment as she and her family had retired for the night.
Three independents on the primary ballot will also move ahead to the General Election. Jeremy Cloward of the Green Party, Jerome Denham of the American Independent party and Mary C. McIlroy of the Peace and Freedom party all ran unopposed and will be placed on the November ballot.