San Ramon mayor pay pull off surprise win

He didn’t have a web site. He didn’t raise as much money or campaign nearly as long.

But San Ramon Mayor Abram Wilson (pictured on the right with Danville Councilwoman Karen Stepper) appears to have bested his three Republican challengers in the hard-fought Assembly District 15 primary race.

With all the precincts counted, Wilson had 31 percent of the vote and a 546-vote lead over his nearest competitor, Robert Rao of Livermore. Judy Lloyd of Danville followed with 23 percent and Scott Kamena came in fourth with 17 percent. (Click here to see the results.)

While there are mail-in and provisional ballots left to count, if the lead holds, it will be a surprising finish.

Rao put more than $500,000 of his own money into the race. Kamena has been campaigning and raising money to win this seat for more than two years. And Lloyd sold her house in order to run, moving to Danville after redistricting in 2001 left her Pleasanton home outside the district’s boundaries.

Wilson, on the other hand, got into the race late after vacillating for weeks. His father died shortly before the filing deadline and the San Ramon mayor almost didn’t run. Political leaders who really like Wilson have been grousing for weeks that he wasn’t living up to his potential or working hard enough to win.

In yet another testimony to the unreliability of conventional wisdom, most thought (including me) that he would post a poor performance tonight.

Wilson’s victory won’t offer much comfort to Democratic primary winner, Joan Buchanan, a San Ramon Valley Unified School District trustee.

Democrats would have preferred to run against Rao, a former automobile dealership owner who campaigned heavily on a conservative, anti-tax platform.

Wilson is a polished, articulate and moderate politician who may appeal to independent-minded voters of both parties. This district recently flipped to a small Democratic Party registration advantage but it remains very competitive. Unlike tonight’s dismally low turnout, the November election with its presidential ticket is expected to draw record numbers of voters.

Lisa Vorderbrueggen