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San Ramon mayor pay pull off surprise win

By Lisa Vorderbrueggen
Wednesday, June 4th, 2008 at 2:21 am in 2008 June primary, California Legislature, Contra Costa politics, Republican politics.

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.

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  • Renegade GOP

    Boy is this shocking!! There is nothing like name ID on a ballot to get you elected. Funny but Wilson was the early favorite to win but he ran such a lousy campaign that nobody gave him a chance. He fooled us all!!
    Now if HISSHONOR would please show a little energy and make the necessary effort to campaign he might be able to save the 15th assembly seat for the GOP.

    The worst performace had to be Scott Kamena… Scotty I will miss you in my living room with in your Doctor outfit.

    Biggest bust Robert Rao. THE MAN IN BLACK!! I guess you could not buy the election Rob. As business investments go I would say your investment in this Assembly race was a bad one.

    Finally Judy Lloyd at least you beat the heck out of Scotty. And your negative campaign against Rao sealed his fate and allowed Wilson to win. Abram better have you over for dinner so he can learn how to raise money from you. Thank GOD ALL OF THOSE REAGAN REPUBLICAN MAILERS AND SIGNS OF YOURS WILL FOREVER BE DECAYING IN A LAND FILL NEAR THE DISTRICT.

  • Bernie Quigley

    there’s something to be said for indolence in a politician. I recall Dwight Eisenhower out playing gold nearly every day of his Presidency. Falling asleep at his desk keeps both him and us out of trouble. Voters find Wilson a safe if sleepy choice and feel at ease with him. As long as he stays on low key autopilot he should do just fine.