With all votes counted in Tuesday’s special election for State Assembly District 4, lone Democrat Dennis Campanale soundly thumped seven Republicans with a 31.8 percent vote margin. Beth Gaines was the nearest competitor with 22.5 percent, narrowly edging Roseville City Councilman John Allard who polled 21.5 percent, according to the official results from the California Secretary of State’s office.
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Gaines and Campanale will face each other in a runoff election May 3. Traditionally, a heavily Republican stronghold, District 4 includes Alpine County and parts of El Dorado, Placer and Sacramento counties.
The candidates seek to fill the Assembly seat formerly held by Beth Gaines’ husband Ted who was successful in a special election in January. Two months after being re-elected to his Assembly position in November, Ted Gaines ran to fill the Senate seat left vacant by the death of former Sen. Dave Cox. That left the Assembly’s 4th District open.
Although Allard beat Gaines by 2 percentage points in Placer County, which is home to both, El Dorado County went solidly for her by almost 27 percent to roughly 19 percent.
According to published reports, both Republicans spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on their campaigns. By comparison, Campanale, a retired firefighter, “spent virtually nothing on the race.”
The district recorded 63,288 votes Tuesday. Campanale received 20,121, while Gaines picked up 14,247 and Allard got 13,580. After Allard, Cheryl Bly-Chester of Roseville garnered the next highest number of votes with 6,156, or 9.7 percent of the the total.
Campanale answered his own phone Wednesday morning and first said he’d “like to thank the voters and congratulate Beth Gaines on her win.”
He went on to note that he and Gaines “have some different ideas and views” but a common goal of doing what’s right for the district.
“I do feel good, and I hope for a larger turnout in May. The turnout was expected to be only 12 percent for this election, and I guess it was more like 20 or 23 percent,” Campanale said.
The candidate has lived in Placer County for about 20 years, he said, and added that he was a firefighter and department chief in West Sacramento for more than 30 years.
Gaines’ campaign sent out a prepared statement late Wednesday morning.
“I am very pleased with the results from yesterday’s special election in our 4th Assembly District. I want to thank my campaign workers, volunteers and friends as well as the thousands of voters who have placed their faith in me. It was a hard fought election and I want to congratulate all of my opponents for running strong campaigns.
“Voters in our district sent a strong message of fiscal conservatism by giving the seven Republican candidates a combined 68 percent of the vote — 23 points more than Republican registration.
“I look forward to the May 3rd run-off election and to serving the people of our area in the Assembly, where I will work to bring fiscal discipline to state government, vigorously oppose tax increases and implement policies that help local businesses create jobs.”
Bly-Chester also sent out a press release Wednesday.
“Like many things I have undertaken in life, I am very proud of the effort and I intend to persevere to see that the people of this district are well-served by their next representative. Our campaign started literally from scratch and reached 10 percent despite being outspent near 20-to-1. We refused to go negative in order to score political points, and I believe that accounts for our strong third place showing among the much better-funded Republican candidates. By keeping our focus on jobs and the economy, I know we ran a campaign worthy of the people of the 4th district.
E-mail Chris Daley at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-344-5063.