June 6, 2012 | Hayward Councilman Bill Quirk won the California primary Tuesday night for the 20th Assembly District, setting up a match up in the fall with a candidate who managed to energize voters in an election that engendered little enthusiasm.

Quirk won the primary with 30.20 percent of the vote. Dr. Jennifer Ong, a first-time Democratic candidate, pulled together and strong and frenetic last few weeks to earn 24.92 percent. The performance was likely enhanced by strong support within the district’s large Asian American community, specifically Filipinos. If elected, Ong would be the only Filipino American in the State Legislature (Rob Bonta in the nearby 18th Assembly District, is also chasing the same distinction this fall). In a county that saw a total of 21 percent of registered voters cast a ballot, her mixture of public appearance, free potted plants and mailers containing pot holders got out the vote.

The night’s results, however, ended a disastrous day for Union City Mayor Mark Green, who finished with 20.86 percent. Earlier in the day he learned the Alameda County Board of Supervisors had excluded him from consideration to replace Nadia Lockyer. Later in the night, his Assembly campaign as an independent fell short of finishing in the top two. The fact “decline to state” voters stayed home nearly 13 points below the already dreadful baseline of 21 percent turnout, invariably killed Green’s chances. Republican Luis Reynoso finished with 18.08 percent, followed by Sarabjit Cheema with 5.77 percent.

Similar to the race in the 18th Assembly District, this one will feature two very similar Democrats. The difference is Quirk has eight years of experience and policy decisions on the Hayward City Council and Ong has no record. Ong also has out-of-the-box consultant and raconteur Richie Ross on her side. As we saw in this race, Ong is a consultant’s dream. She stays on message and appears willing to allow the pros steer her ship. One way for Ong to draw major distinctions between her and Quirk within environmentalists, can be summed up in three words: Calpine. Calpine. Calpine.

You can already envision a Ross-inspired mailer featuring school children playing under a dark cloud of pollution, presumably from the Calpine power plant near Chabot College, and including a paper face mask emblazoned with the words, Ong for Assembly.

CORRECTION: In an early edition of this article, the percentage of votes Ong received was incorrect posted in the text, but not in the table. The error has been corrected.

20th District……………VOTES….PCT
Bill Quirk………………11773..30.20%
Jennifer Ong……………..9717..24.92%
Mark Green……………….8131..20.86%
Luis Reynoso……………..7047..18.08%
Sarabjit Cheema…………..2250.. 5.77%