Poll watchers throughout the 10th District were put on hold Tuesday as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger issued an order stating that crews fighting the Southern California wildfires be given an opportunity to vote. As a result of keeping those polls open, vote tallies could not be announced until after 10 p.m.
However, due to the low voter turnout, estimated to be 29.9 percent in Contra Costa County, the clerks in the four counties that comprise District 10 were able to get the ballots counted and have final figures announced by 11 p.m.
On the Republican side, David Harmer, a San Ramon attorney, garnered the lion's share of the GOP votes, with 20.46 percent of the vote. Although far ahead of the pack, he was followed by Chris Bunch with 12 percent, Gary Clift with 3.99 percent and John Toth with 3.22 percent.
Surrounded by supporters and well wishers at a campaign party in Walnut Creek, Harmer said he was pleased with the result but not overly surprised.
"We're confident, I'd say we're even enthused," he laughed. "We've been working for three months on this."
A first time political candidate, Harmer focused on a campaign of fiscal conservancy with the slogan "No More Bailouts" on his campaign literature.
"I have four important reasons for caring about what happens in congress," he said. "My kids. I've taught them to work before they play, to save before they spend, but Congress doesn't do that." He likened the increasing national debt to his daughter graduating from college with medical school loans but no medical degree.
He said that in the months leading up to the Nov. 3 General Election there will be few changes in his campaign. "Our message will be the same and our methods will be the same."
For the democrats, the race wasn't quite as cut and dried. Lt. Gov. John Garamendi jumped out to a slight lead over nearest challenger Mark DeSaulnier and kept the lead all of the way to the end.
Garamendi, of Walnut Grove, secured 26.15 percent of the vote, compared to DeSaulnier's 17.5 percent. State Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan came in third with 12 percent.
Shortly after 11 p.m. the mood was weary but still excited at Buchanan's Walnut Creek headquarters as volunteers and staffers began the process of winding down the campaign. The candidate was unavailable for comment as she and her family had retired for the night.
Three independents on the primary ballot will also move ahead to the General Election. Jeremy Cloward of the Green Party, Jerome Denham of the American Independent party and Mary C. McIlroy of the Peace and Freedom party all ran unopposed and will be placed on the November ballot.
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