In Tuesday’s race for State Senate District 9, Nancy Skinner and Sandre Swanson emerged as the clear winners.
The two Democratic candidates, both of whom have similar platforms and served as state Assembly members together, will be pitted against each other in November’s general elections. Skinner gathered 47 percent of votes as of press time, ahead of the 33 percent gathered by Swanson.
“I have been active in … issues that this district cares about since 1979, and I’ve been on the ballot multiple times,” Skinner said. “(The election result) reaffirms that my life’s work and public service work has been valued.”
Skinner and Swanson were among four candidates vying for the two ballot spaces, followed by moderate Democrat Katherine Welch and Republican candidate Rich Kinney, collecting about 12 percent and 8 percent of the votes, respectively.
While both advocate progressive platforms, Skinner’s platforms specifically include taking on big corporations and gun lobbying, reforming the criminal justice system and expanding educational opportunities.
Swanson points to his commitment to education, to a program that aimed to improve healthcare for children from low-income families and to addressing human trafficking during his time in the state Legislature.
“We have different emphasis,” Swanson said, adding that there were some policies he and Swanson diverged on during the course of the period they served together in the state Assembly.
Campus political science lecturer Alan Ross attributes Skinner and Swanson’s success to their strong name identification among voters, which he said is likely because of their experience as state Assembly members.
The geographic area District 9 covers is composed of the two Assembly districts formerly represented by Skinner and Swanson — Assembly districts 15 and 16, respectively.
UC Berkeley student and Republican Assembly District 15 candidate Claire Chiara said she supported Republican candidate Kinney in the race, pointing to Skinner’s long role in government, beginning back when Skinner was elected to City Council while still a student at UC Berkeley.
“(The candidates) are old-school Democrats who have been in power for ages,” Chiara said. “I think it’s time for a fresh voice.”
Kinney said that even though Republican voters in the area are a small percentage of voters, it’s important for people to hear the perspective of those not left-leaning.
Ross noted that Skinner’s lead in Tuesday’s election and her long history in public office does not necessarily point to an easy win in November. Considering that both state Senate hopefuls have garnered strong endorsements, Ross said both candidates will have to work to secure votes of more moderate and conservative voters.
“The only advantage of winning today (is that candidate will) go into November a little stronger,” Ross said, adding that it will be easier for the highest vote-getter in the primary election to raise campaign funding, particularly if the candidate won by a large margin.
According to Skinner, Alameda County has one of the highest voter registration and turnout rates. To be able to communicate to the larger number of voters that will turn up for the general elections, Skinner said it will require more money than campaigns in other districts.
The general election will take place Nov. 8.