Democratic Assemblyman Jared Huffman and Republican Dan Roberts received the most votes in the race for the congressional seat being vacated by retiring Rep. Lynn Woolsey.

The final unofficial count from Tuesday's election featuring 12 candidates put Huffman on top with a commanding win of 37.3 percent.

Huffman and Roberts, who received 15.3 percent, appeared to be headed for the Nov. 6 general election. But Roberts holds a one percent lead, or about 1,400 more votes, over third-place finisher Democrat Norman Solomon.

The county's official vote tally won't be completed for a few weeks, with last-minute mail-in and provisional ballots still to count.

However, Roberts held a lead over Solomon throughout the vote count on Tuesday night.

"This is a terrific night for us," said Huffman, who was considered the front-runner because of his name recognition and prodigious fundraising.

Huffman said his strong showing and the large number of other Democrats helped Roberts gain second place.

"Dan deserves a lot of credit for working hard," Huffman said. "A lot of people wrote him off."

Roberts, a political newcomer, said he was pleased with, but not surprised by, the early results, which confirmed his strategy.

"I felt I had to hold the Republican base, get some of the independents and the Reagan Democrats and I win," he said.

His early showing contradicted analysts who had forecast two Democrats would likely vie for the seat in the November general election.

Huffman, who raised more than $1 million, led the dozen candidates from the start of the count, initially having 42 percent, while Roberts had 14.5 percent.

Roberts, a Tiburon securities broker, raised $184,000, including $160,000 in loans to his own campaign.

"How else was I going to get the message out, other than to kickstart (the campaign) with my money," he said.

Under California's new primary election system, the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, will compete in the November general election.

The ultimate winner will replace Democratic Rep. Lynn Woolsey of Petaluma, who is retiring after 20 years.

Solomon said the race for second place "was not predictable," noting the gaps between himself and both Roberts and Lawson were "pretty small."

No matter the final outcome, Solomon said he was proud of the "grassroots" style of his campaign, which included scores of volunteers.

Solomon, a West Marin activist/author, held third place throughout the night, followed by San Rafael businesswoman Stacey Lawson who eventually finished with 10.1 percent of the vote.

Lawson, a political newcomer, raised more than $900,000 to finish the campaign donations sweepstakes just behind Huffman.

Solomon was the third leading fund-raiser with $630,000.

Roberts, a political newcomer, raised $184,000, including $160,000 in loans to his own campaign.

Under California's new primary election system, the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, will compete in the November general election.

The ultimate winner will replace Woolsey of Petaluma, who is retiring after 20 years in Congress.

Susan Adams, a Marin County supervisor, took fifth place with 8.4 percent of the vote, followed by Republican Mike Halliwell of Cotati with 6 percent.

Brooke Clarke of Ukiah came in seventh with 2.3 percent and Petaluma Vice Mayor Tiffany Renee had 1.9 percent, followed by Independent John Lewallen of Philo with 1.5 percent, and Democrats William Courtney of Mendocino with 1.4 percent, Andy Caffrey of Garberville with 1 percent and Larry Fritzlan of Mill Valley with .7 percent.

Betty Bryant of Camp Meeker said she voted for Huffman, a former environmental attorney, because he was endorsed by the Sierra Club.

Bryant, a longtime supporter of Woolsey, said she thinks Huffman will maintain the region's liberal representation in Congress.

"I hope so," she said.

Kim Lawton, Bryant's domestic partner, said she voted for Adams because she is a nurse and a mother.

"We need much, much more of that perspective in politics," Lawton said. "Women who think twice before they throw children away, in war or whatever."

Meryl Krause of Occidental, who voted for Solomon, said the country needs a "redistribution of wealth — more for the people."

"We need somebody sane," she said. "I think he is sane."

Max Bird of Occidental said he based his vote for Solomon on an informal poll he took at an Occidental brew pub.

Solomon got "high marks" from the other fellow in the bar, he said.

The new North Coast district, established by a redistricting commission last year, stretches from Marin County to the Oregon border, excluding Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park, Cotati and Sonoma Valley.

Woolsey's retirement set the stage for a wide-open race with no incumbent.

Huffman, who is termed out of the Assembly this year, was an early entrant in the race, along with Solomon and Adams.

A series of political forums established early on that there was little difference on the issues among the eight Democratic candidates.

Democrats dominate the sprawling district with a better than 2-to-1 advantage over Republicans in voter registration.