Former Republican Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee defeated John Laird in the special election to fill the 15th District Senate seat left vacant when Abel Maldonado resigned to take the lieutenant governor post in May.
With all 84 precincts in the five counties reporting, the former Assembly minority leader defeated his Democratic opponent with a commanding 48.8 percent. Laird, former Assemblyman for the 27th District and former mayor of Santa Cruz, took 44.1 percent of the vote.
Independent candidate Jim Fitzgerald of Nipomo and Libertarian candidate Mark Hinkle trailed behind with 5.1 and 2.0 percent, respectively.
As expected, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties were major assets to the Blakeslee campaign; he led with an overwhelming 56.6 percent in SLO County. Blakeslee stomped the other candidates in Santa Barbara County with 61.7 percent.
Laird’s victories in his stronghold counties of Santa Cruz and Monterey and his close victory in Santa Clara weren’t enough to defeat the seasoned Republican.
“Tonight’s result sends a clear message to Sacramento: It’s time to fix California,” Blakeslee said in a statement Tuesday evening after declaring victory. “This was a hard-fought contest. The Sacramento status quo fought us every step of the way. But tonight is a victory for the grassroots.”
Blakeslee is expected to be sworn in after results are certified, within two weeks. His victory means that even after results from the November general election are finalized, his former Assembly seat will remain vacant until the winner is sworn in Dec.1. Republican and current County Supervisor Katcho Achadjian, Democrat Hilda Zacarias, and Libertarian Paul Polson are vying for that seat.