By STEVE HART
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
North Coast Democrats held big leads in three Assembly races and one state Senate contest Tuesday night with more than half of the votes counted.
Democrats Noreen Evans, Michael Allen, Wes Chesbro and Jared Huffman averaged more than 60 percent of the votes, with most absentee ballots and the majority of precincts reporting.
“I think California is going to be very different than the rest of the country,” said Chesbro, whose opponent identified herself with the Tea Party. “People in California want practical solutions, and they see Democrats as the party of practical solutions.”
Democrats were heavily favored in the North Coast legislative districts, where there are five Democratic voters for every two Republicans.
Evans, a three-term Assembly member from Santa Rosa, will take over the 2nd Senate District seat being vacated by Sen. Pat Wiggins, D-Santa Rosa. Evans defeated Republican Lawrence Wiesner, a Santa Rosa accountant, 63 percent to 37 percent with all precincts reporting.
The sprawling North Coast Senate district stretches from Sonoma and Santa Rosa to Humboldt County, including Mendocino, Lake and Napa counties, and a portion of Solano.
Allen, a former Sonoma County labor union official, aide to Wiggins and Santa Rosa planning commissioner, will succeed Evans in the Assembly’s 7th District, which includes Santa Rosa and Napa. He won 64 percent of the vote, with all precincts reporting. Republican Doris Gentry, a Napa businesswoman, received 32 percent of the vote and Libertarian Kathryn Moore, a sales associate from Santa Rosa, took 4 percent.
Chesbro, a former state senator from Arcata, won his second term in the Assembly, representing the North Coast’s First District.
He defeated Republican Karen Brooks, a businesswoman from Bayside, 61 percent to 39 percent.
Huffman, a San Rafael attorney, won his third term in the Sixth Assembly District, covering Marin and southern Sonoma counties. He defeated Republican businessman Bob Stephens of San Rafael 70 percent to 30 percent.
The four Democrats swamped their rivals in campaign fundraising and spending. Since the beginning of the year, they’ve spent more than $1 million, compared to $141,658 by their GOP opponents.
But the three incumbents used much of their money to help other Democrats in tight races in other parts of the state. Chesbro, Evans and Huffman donated tens of thousands to candidates for statewide, legislative and local offices, as well as the Democratic Party.