Democrats square off in fierce East Bay state Senate battle

Decision day in a heated Democratic slugfest for an East Bay state Senate seat has finally arrived.

Polls opened Tuesday morning for the race between Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla of Concord and Steve Glazer, a political consultant and mayor of Orinda, which has been an acrimonious and expensive fight between the two Democrats and their outside backers.

Interest groups poured more than $7 million into the contest, according to filings with the secretary of state. Glazer is backed by the Chamber of Commerce and wealthy Los Angeles businessman Bill Bloomfield.

Labor unions -- whom Glazer has sparred with for past campaign work and his support to ban strikes by transit unions -- have spent heavily for Bonilla, as well as dentists and doctor groups. Wealthy environmentalist Tom Steyer has also contributed to the independent effort backing her campaign.

The candidates have clashed on high-speed rail -- Bonilla supports the project, Glazer does not- - and on taxes. Both candidates have sought to claim the mantle of a moderate Democrat, while accusing their rival of being too close to special interests.

This is Glazer's second attempt to return to Sacramento; he unsuccessfully ran for an Assembly seat last year in a race that had similar labor-versus-business undertones, but lost in the primary.

The two candidates are vying for the seat vacated by now-U.S. Rep. Mark DeSaulnier of Concord.

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