The general election night party for judicial candidate Joe Hoffman, who would later lose to incumbent Judge Warren “Curt” Stracener by just over 5 percentage points, was more relaxed than the primary election, the lack of tension obvious. He wandered through the bar section of Sienna Restaurant in El Dorado Hills, talking with people who had come to show support.
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Stracener declined to comment on election night and did not respond to calls for comment before deadline Wednesday. Stracener won by 3,256 votes, 52.41 percent to Hoffman’s 47.14 percent.
“People at the supermarket come up to me and say, ‘I voted for that guy,’ and ‘that guy’ is me, so I just say ‘Thanks,’” Hoffman told a group of supporters and laughed.
Just minutes before polls closed, Hoffman said he was “nervous,” but he did not appear to be. Instead, he appeared jovial and nonchalant. “The unknown is the weirdest part” of the election, he said. “I ran the campaign I wanted to run,” he said, noting he tried to stay positive.
Supporters who appeared for the party included Sheriff John D’Agostini, El Dorado School Board member Todd White, Supervisor-elect Ron Mikulaco, Judge Douglas C. Phimister and John Bailey, son of Judge Steven Bailey.
The younger Bailey noted that it was the most contentious race for a county judge seat he had seen, and that it was a close race. He recalled a few other races had been won with at least a 60 percent vote, but said that “Stracener has, what, barely over 50 percent? It shows there are issues.”
The District Attorney’s Office also showed support, with DA Vern Pierson and deputy district attorneys Mike Pizzuti and James Clinchard attending. Pizzuti said that, if Hoffman won, they would be excited for him and would look forward to working with him.
But, based on the semi-official results, Hoffman lost to incumbent Warren “Curt” Stracener by a barely more than 5 percent.
Wednesday morning, Hoffman said of the election and the results that he was “disappointed in both. Certainly in the race.” He again noted he was proud of his campaign, and, on keeping the campaign positive, he said he “liked that part.” He also noted that “it is hard to beat someone who spent over $200,000 on a campaign,”more than double what Hoffman spent.
For now, Hoffman said he is regrouping at his law practice, waiting to see what happens in two years when another judicial election takes place. On running again, he said he “won’t say no, won’t say yes.”