Leno takes hotly contested District 3 race

Mark Leno triumphed in a tough battle against incumbent Carole Migden and former Assemblymember Joe Nation for the Senate District 3 Democratic nomination Tuesday.

“We have declared victory,” Leno told The Examiner. With 537 of 661 precincts reporting, he held 43.4 percent of the vote to second-place finisher Nation, who had 28.9 percent.

Sonoma County, however, had not reported more than 100 of its precincts, according to state election results at that point. Leno said he would continue to fight for clean and renewable energy as well as single-payer health care reform.

The Democratic nominee is likely to win the general election due to the high volume of Democratic voters in the district, according to political observers. The district incorporates half of The City, all of Marin County and parts of Sonoma County. Since its creation in 1984, only San Franciscans have held the seat, according to the Senate Clerk’s Office.

The three veteran legislators ran against each other in one of the most hotly contested races in the state for this primary. Leno, termed out of his Assembly seat, likely to be taken over by Supervisor Tom Ammiano, challenged his former mentor and ally Migden, campaigning on a promise to bring morals and ethics to Sacramento.

Migden was left battling for her political career after the Fair Political Practices Commission fined her a record amount of $350,000 for 89 campaign finance violations including personal use of campaign dollars, which she attributed to sloppy bookkeeping during her battle with leukemia. Leno had complained about the violations, although the FPPC had already begun investigating Migden.

Nation, a former Assembly member from San Rafael and climate change adviser, threw his hat into the ring in February with the hopes that Leno and Migden would split the San Francisco vote, observers said. He pitched himself as the most moderate candidate, one who would focus on fiscal responsibility within state government.

Sonoma State politics professor David McCuan said this race was significant because the winner gets to help redraw district lines in 2010 as well as play an important role in selecting the Democratic nominee for governor in 2010.

dsmith@sfexaminer.com

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