Jovanka Beckles’ campaign declared victory Saturday 11 days after the close-fought June 5 primary election. Beckles, however, did not win anything. But the second-place finish in the state’s top two primary is just as good as win for the progressive Richmond councilmember who will now face fellow Democrat Buffy Wicks, the winner of the June primary. The matchup offers a tantalizing contrast of styles and visions for local Democrats.
“I’m enormously grateful for the fabulous support, team spirit, hard work–and fun!–of my volunteer campaigners in the primary They showed what genuine people power can do,” said Beckles in a statement.
She also thanked Oakland Councilmember Dan Kalb for running a strong campaign. Kalb conceded on Thursday night.
Election results from Alameda and Contra Costa Counties provided a near daily back-and-forth battle for the coveted second place position. A winner did not become clear until Thursday night when the last batch of ballots from Alameda County, a portion of the assembly district Kalb had outperformed Beckles, failed to give him an electoral advantage.
In Contra Costa County, Beckles held a roughly two-to-one advantage over Kalb, making it unlikely the last ballots remaining would overturn Beckles’ slim, but fairly certain, 295-vote lead.
Beckles’ campaign used the opportunity to launch the first salvos of the campaign. A race almost certain to feature intense spending by special interest groups and brickbats between the candidates.
“I have taken no corporate money. I never have and I never will. That means I’m free to listen to everyone. I’m not bought,” said Beckles, who is endorsed by Sen. Bernie Sanders and Our Revolution, the offshoot of his presidential campaign. “There are no strings attached to my candidacy. I’m nobody’s puppet.”
Beckles’ comment is certainly a reference to her opponent, Wicks, who raised $928,000 during the entire primary campaign. By contrast, among the seven primary candidates in the race, Beckles’ campaign was one of the least funded, raising $160,000 since last year.
Wicks, was also the beneficiary of $493,000 in uncoordinated support from Govern for California, an Independent Expenditure Committee backed by proponents of charter schools.
In addition, with the matchup set for November, elected officials and other local politicos this week began the ritual of taking sides in the 15th Assembly District, in the form of endorsements. Beckles on Monday received the endorsement of Oakland Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan.