Senate Race Headed for Run-Off

After the final tally came in on Friday, Assembly member Sam Blakeslee did not manage to cross the 50 percent threshold that would have given him the District 15 Senate Seat. Former-Assembly member John Laird will face him, along with Jim Fitzgerald and Mark Hinkle, in an August 15 runoff.

Final count
John Laird (Dem) 41.73%    61,150
Sam Blakeslee (Rep) 49.49%    72,518

As has been the case with several local elections, the final results of the June 22 Senate District 15 special election are on hold while registrar workers sift through the remaining ballots, estimated Wednesday to be at about 17,000. At the moment, it appears that Republican Assembly member Sam Blakeslee and Democratic former-Assembly member John Laird will be heading to an August run-off. However, should the provisional and mail-in ballots fall heavily into the Blakeslee column, he could bump up to over 50 percent and avoid the hassle altogether. As of Thursday morning, Blakeslee held 49.7 percent of the vote and Laird had 41.34 percent in an election that, in Santa Clara County, brought out a measly 25 percent turnout. Independent Jim Fitzgerald took 6.02 percent and Libertarian candidate Mark Hinkle won 2.93 percent of the pie.

The two candidates carried the parts of the long, weirdly shaped district as expected – Laird prevailed in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties by wide margins, while Blakeslee took San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara. The part of Santa Clara County in District 15 – including bits of Los Gatos, Almaden, Saratoga and Monte Sereno – considered to be a bit of a swing district, ultimately swung slightly for Blakeslee. Laird picked up 44.68 percent of the votes to Blakeslee’s 46.19 percent.

Should the August 18 run-off proceed, all four candidates will appear on the ballot. Sacramento will be watching the race closely, as a win for Laird means the Democrats would be a single vote away from a supermajority in the State Senate.



  1. We can credit our lame duck Governor for the added expense of a special election just two weeks after the general election! He hoped this off-cycle election would play better for Republicans, and it looks as if he may have been correct. Not fair, not economically smart, but since when have intelligence and fairness played a role in CA politics?

    • The law gave him that option.  The Democrats will use that law to their maximum advantage if and when they elect another Governor, so I don’t really blame him for doing likewise.

      The Legislature should never have written a Special Elections law that would permit a Governor to set a Special Election just 14 days after a statewide election, however.  Giving the Governor that power doesn’t make sense.  He should only be allowed to set special elections at a time significantly removed from regularly scheduled, state-wide elections.  I’ll be waiting for the overwhelming Democratic Legislature to move forward on legislation to correct that problem.  I suspect I’ll be waiting in vain.

      And he isn’t a lame duck until after the November election.

      • Kevin,

        Yeah, they’ll do that right after they come up with a redistricting plan that is fair and equitable.

        I take your point regarding Schwarzenegger just following what the law allows. He does, however, have the discretion to schedule the election in a way that would not ad the extra expense, but chose not to.

        Regarding “lame duck”(s) Webster partially agrees with your interpretation, but adds another: “one whose position or term of office will soon end.” With Arnold termed out and the Legislature basically ignoring him I’d say that if he looks like a lame duck, walks like a lame duck, quacks like a lame duck…you know the rest.

  2. Both front-runners appear qualified and competent.  The election itself is a train-wreck with both Democrats in the legislature and the Republican in the Governors office doing things for their parties.  How ironic that the worst gerrymandered district in the state get such a lousy special election.

    By the way both parties have treated this (which happens to be my) State Senate district, I get the sense they don’t want to see me represented by a candidate of my own choosing, from my own community, but would rather lump together folks across 3 or 4 counties and hundreds of miles in a franken-district designed to please no one except the political chess players in Sacramento.

    • Yeah, here’s hoping that ridding this state of Senate District 15’s boundaries will be a top priority for the new redistricting commission.  I live about half a mile outside of it myself, but the dang this is a travesty, pure and simple.  The idea that Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, and Almaden are in the same district as parts of Santa Barbara County is absurd.

  3. The weird thing about this Special Election is that if there is a run-off, it will be between the same four candidates that participated in the first round, as there were no multiple candidates from any one party to be eliminated.  I don’t recall ever seeing that occur previously.

  4. I’d love to see us return to the old system of having 58 state senators, one for each county, but the Federal courts ruled that unConstitutional, due to the fact that each county has an unequal population.  I guess they never took the make-up of the U.S. Senate into consideration….

    I think 58 state Senators representing each county would be far more responsive and representative than the current system, where state Senate districts are completely meaningless (the fact people from Sierra County would be hugely over-represented not withstanding).

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