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A primary race unlike any other

Published: Wednesday, May 2, 2012 at 10:40 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, May 2, 2012 at 10:40 a.m.

This year's June 5 election will be anything but ordinary, thanks to modified voting districts, an open primary congressional race.

Redistricting was taken away from the legislature by Propostion 11 in 2008, which charged a 14-member citizen committee with redistricting California's voter districts. This year new districts have placed Petaluma in State Assembly District 10, State Senate District 3 and Congressional District 2.

Due to congressional incumbent Lynn Woosley's pending retirement and Proposition 14's requirement that the general election consist of the top two vote-grabbing candidates, the race for congress has become a free-for-all, with 12 people running. It is likely that the candidates placing first and second in June's primary will both be Democrats, giving voters the possibility of the first ever single-party general election in November.

The probability of a single-party general election has caused leading Democrats to ratchet up their campaign spending.

In the past, since this area's voter registration is mostly democratic, the party has rarely needed to spend much on campaigns to beat out the Republican candidate. But since this November will likely be a Democrat-versus-Democrat showdown, the leading candidates are doing some heavy fundraising.

By March 31, the top three fundraising candidates had reported more than $2 million in campaign contributions. According to the Federal Election Commission, currently leading the fundraising race is Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, with $864,567. Democrat Stacey Lawson, a businesswoman and political newbie from San Rafael, is close behind with $740,797. Democrat Norman Solomon, an educator and author from Point Reyes Station, has raised the next highest amount at $526,802.

The other Democratic candidates for congress are: Susan Adams, a San Rafael nurse and county supervisor; Andy Caffrey, a “green conversion” consultant from Redway; William Courtney, a physician and researcher from Mendocino; Larry Fritzlan, a Mill Valley psychotherapist and businessperson; and Petaluma's Vice Mayor Tiffany Renée.

Republicans running are Mike Halliwell, a college professor from Cotati; and Daniel Roberts, a securities broker from Mill Valley. Brooke Clarke, a small-business owner from Ukiah and John Lewallen, a business owner from Philo, are running as independents.

Total fundraising for all 12 candidates could jump to more than $3 million for this primary alone.

The voter-mandated redistricting has also carved out a section from what has been Woolsey's district, not only changing its designation as the 6th Congressional district to the 2nd Congressional District, but also shifting Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park and Penngrove to the newly titled 5th Congressional District.

In addition to the congressional race, Petaluma voters will also be weighing in on the 10th State Assembly District race between Assemblyman Michael Allen, D-San Rafael, who is currently representing the 7th District; Democrat Alex Easton-Brown, a pension reform coordinator from Lagunitas; Petaluma Democrat H. Christian Gunderson, a chiropractor and entrepreneur; Democrat Marc Levine, a San Rafael City Council member; Democrat Connie Wong, a military officer and mother from Corte Madera; Republican Peter Mancus, a small business owner from Sebastopol; and Joe Boswell, a small business person from San Rafael running as an independent.

One noticeable effect is the change in senatorial districts. Previously represented by Mark Leno — a Democrat whose term ends this year — Petaluma will now fall under Senator Lois Wolk's jurisdiction, in which she is running unopposed and will become the new Senate District 3 representative at the beginning of 2013.

For more information on the candidates, go to www.watchsonomacounty.com or vote.sonoma-county.org.

(Contact Janelle Wetzstein at janelle.wetzstein@arguscourier.com)

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