In a battle between two Democrats, Orinda Mayor Steve Glazer was elected Tuesday to the state Senate in a special election over Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla of Concord for a seat representing the East Bay.
With 100% of precincts reporting, Glazer had 54.6% of the vote, compared with the 45.4% garnered by Bonilla.
"Our campaign struck a chord with voters frustrated by the gridlock and dysfunction in Sacramento," Glazer said when the results were in. "They want leaders who are more pragmatic than partisan, more focused on answers than ambition."
The contest proved one of the most expensive and acrimonious legislative battles in recent years, with more than $7 million spent by outside groups, in addition to the $2 million spent by the candidates themselves.
Glazer, a moderate Democrat and longtime political advisor to Gov. Jerry Brown, received outside help from the California Chamber of Commerce, while unions spent heavily for Bonilla. Glazer had angered labor by opposing strikes by public transit employees of BART, while Bonilla supports their right to strike.
The California Democratic Party had backed Bonilla. The party's executive director, Shawnda Westly, said Tuesday the party would not back down from supporting candidates like Bonilla in the future.
"Her opponent claimed to be Democrat but ran a cynical campaign to appeal to Republican voters in a low-turnout election," Westly said in a statement. "We know that low-turnout elections favor Republicans. When Democratic voters show up and vote, Democrats win."
The special election was held to fill a vacancy in the Senate created when Mark DeSaulnier was elected to Congress.