Imagine a Republican county supervisor from Crescent City winning the North Coast seat in Congress and holding onto it for 20 years. That’s what happened when Don Clausen, a World War II veteran, won the 1962 election in a district that stretched — as it does now, with some variations — from Marin County to Oregon. But that area of rugged coastline and liberal-leaning voters now has no Republicans in Congress or the Legislature, nor does any GOP candidate have a shouting chance of success in today’s election.
Voters favored incumbents in three state legislative races representing various parts of the North Coast. Final returns gave veteran lawmaker Wes Chesbro, D-Arcata, almost three times as many votes as Guerneville activist Tom Lynch in their race to represent the revamped 2nd Assembly District.
Sonoma County voters on Tuesday will begin the process of replacing retiring Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey and filling a heavily contested Assembly seat, likely creating first-ever runoffs between two Democrats. In addition, with new district boundaries in force for the first time, voters will have a say in four other races for Congress, the Assembly and state Senate. Tuesday’s election, the first statewide vote under California’s top two primary system, is expected to set up three November run-offs between two Democrats instead of a Democrat and a Republican.
Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada and her challenger, John Munn, have five more months to introduce themselves to Sonoma County voters. Under the state’s new open primary system, Yamada and Munn — the only candidates in the race — will face off not only June 5 but also in November’s general election.