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By Tim Hunt

Pondering the primary

Uploaded: Jun 5, 2014

Republican Catharine Baker, a Pleasanton attorney making her first run for elected office, easily out-polled three Democrats. Dublin Mayor Tim Sbranti prevailed after a tough fight with Orinda Councilman Steve Glazer in a battle that pitted the state teachers union and service employees union against business interests including the Realtors—all acting as independent committees.
The question for the fall will be whether Baker can peel off independent and some Democratic votes to overcome a 40-32 Democratic registration advantage. About 22 percent of voters are registered decline-to-state. Sbranti, a teacher, has been active in the California Teachers Association political arm for years, a fact Glazer's campaign and independent supporters hammered during the campaign.

Perhaps the biggest surprise to me was in the 15th Congressional where one-term incumbent Eric Swalwell out-polled his competitors nearly 2-to-1, but Republican challenger Hugh Bussell is leading state Sen. Ellen Corbett by about 700 votes in the unofficial results. If that stands when the election is certified, Swalwell will have a cakewalk in the fall in the sharply Democratic district. Democratic voters out-numbered registered Republicans 48-22 percent with decline-to-state nearly equally the Republicans. I had expected Corbett to run well enough to take the second position and then have a fall battle with Swalwell. Judging by mail and activity at my house in the district, her campaign may have been a bit over-confident while Swalwell's folks worked as if they were running against former Rep. Pete Stark two years ago. Corbett is termed out of the state Senate this year.

The Democrat showdown will take place in the 17th when incumbent Mike Honda ran nearly as well as Swalwell picking up 48.6 percent of the vote to 27 percent for challenge Ro Khanna. Khanna raised more money, tapping his Silicon Valley connections, but Honda countered with plenty of support from unions.

One other elected official facing a fall run-off is state schools Chief Tom Torlakson. If Torlakson had managed to top 50 percent, he would have been re-elected to the non-partisan office outright. Challenger Marshall Tuck is a former charter school executive in Los Angeles with plenty of support from influential people in that area, Torlakson won 47 percent to 29 percent for Tuck. The state teachers union again was a huge investor in Torlakson, a former teacher.

Congrats to the students, teachers and parents in Livermore where voters, for the third time, approved a parcel tax. It drew 71 percent of the votes. Countywide turnout was tiny—just 17 percent—but those who voted overwhelming approved continuing the half-cent sales tax to support the county's health safety net and other health agencies. It was renewed for 20 years by a 75 percent majority.


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