State Senate District 7 is poised for all-Democrat special runoff election this May between Orinda Mayor Steve Glazer and Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, with former Tri-Valley Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan conceding her third-place finish Election Night despite thousands of ballots still to be counted in the special primary.
"I don't expect the results to change," Buchanan, the third prominent Democrat in the primary, said in a phone interview Wednesday afternoon.
The Alamo resident announced that she congratulated second-place Bonilla (D-Concord) late Tuesday night and that she would be endorsing Bonilla in the May 19 runoff.
Roughly 2,250 votes separated Bonilla (24.9%) and Buchanan (22.6%), as of the final unofficial Election Night totals, in the battle for second place in the primary for the vacant State Senate seat. Glazer finished comfortably in first place, with 32.8% of the votes cast.
"It was positive evidence that voters want a fiscally responsible, bipartisan problem-solver who is independent from powerful special interests," Glazer said in an interview Wednesday morning.
Election Night results include all of the precincts and vote-by-mail ballots received before Election Day, but they do not incorporate approximately 13,330 qualifying vote-by-mail and provisional ballots still to be counted between Contra Costa and Alameda counties, according to election officials.
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%
The primary's totals must be certified by March 27.
Buchanan, who served six years in the State Assembly before being termed out last year, said she doesn't anticipate leapfrogging Bonilla once the final tallies come in.
"We're very proud of the campaign we ran," Buchanan said, later adding, "It's hard to compete with the big independent expenditures made on behalf of the other competitors."
In offering her support to Bonilla, Buchanan cited their similar views on her top legislative priority, education. "I think her values and my values are most closely aligned on that issue," Buchanan said.
Bonilla campaign officials have not yet responded to requests for comment.
Although she expected to finish higher in the primary, Buchanan noted that, "We also realize these low-turnout elections are hard to predict."
Voter participation across both counties stood at about 20.1% at the end of Election Night. The estimated remaining ballots could increase the turnout to closer to 23%.
Contra Costa election officials reported having approximately 9,900 ballots left to review and tally, including about 9,000 vote-by-mail ballots received on Election Day and about 900 provisional ballots.
Alameda County officials reported having at least 3,200 mailed-in ballots and about 230 provisional ballots remaining.
More than three-quarters of registered 7th District voters reside in Contra Costa County.
The winner of the May runoff will complete the remainder of the four-year term set to expire at the end of 2016, which was vacated by Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) following his election to Congress.
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.