The central San Joaquin Valley’s six Assembly members all won new two-year terms with solid victories Tuesday night.
Visalia Republican Devon Mathis took 66.3 percent of the vote to 33.7 percent for Democrat Ruben Macareno, also of Visalia.
Problems with polling places in Tulare County slowed results on election night before it became clear early Wednesday that Mathis would hold on to the seat – the only Valley Assembly race where it looked before Tuesday like there might be a contest.
Macareno issued a concession statement about 1 a.m. Wednesday.
Macareno wrote: “With all the said evils of money in politics, the unfortunate reality is that it is a necessary tool to be successful. Perhaps campaign reform for state and local elections should be a plank the people or legislators should take a serious look at. Assemblymember Mathis had amassed $500,000 for his campaign from special interest and almost nothing from the voters; perhaps why he moved away from his ‘People over Politics’ agenda. I received a little over $2,000 specifically from district voters.
“Nevertheless this campaign is over and my message to anyone who wants to make a difference, ‘Never give up.’ … You haven’t heard the last of me. I’ll be back.”
Macareno failed to get out of the primary in 2014, when Mathis ran against fellow Republican Rudy Mendoza in the general election. The results shifted this year, when Macareno edged out the favored Mendoza by 3 percentage points in June. In 2014, Mendoza soundly beat Mathis in the primary election, only to lose by 7 percentage points in the general election.
The district is based in Tulare County but includes Inyo County and parts of Kern County.
Kingsburg Democrat Joaquin Arambula rolled to his third victory over Fresno Republican Clint Olivier this year in the Fresno County district. Arambula is up 61.8 percent to Olivier’s 38.2 percent with all precincts reporting.
In April, Arambula beat Oliver by 14 percentage points in a special election after a debate-heavy campaign push. The election was held to replace Democrat Henry T. Perea, who vacated the seat.
In the June primary, Arambula secured 58 percent of the vote to Olivier’s 36 percent. Caruthers Democrat Ted Miller was eliminated from the race after winning 7 percent.
Olivier did not actively campaign after the primary.
Fresno Republican Jim Patterson secured his third and apparently final Assembly term. Patterson, who announced in January that he intends to run for a state Senate seat in 2018, received 76.8 percent of the vote in the district that is centered in Fresno County but includes part of Tulare County. Fellow Republican Gwen Morris, also of Fresno, polled 23.2 percent.
In June, Patterson beat Morris by nearly 55 percentage points.
Republican incumbent Frank Bigelow of O’Neals polled 64.3 percent to 35.7 percent for Sonora Democrat Robert Carabas with all but one of 444 precincts in the mountain district reporting. District 5 includes Madera and Mariposa counties.
Bigelow secured 60 percent of the vote in the crowded race in the June primary. Carabas finished second with 20 percent, with two other challengers securing single-digit totals.
Bakersfield Democrat Rudy Salas received 62.4 percent of the vote to 37.6 percent for Republican Manuel Ramirez, also of Bakersfield, in the district based in Kern County but also serving all of Kings County.
Salas ran unopposed in June, but Ramirez was added to the ballot after receiving the most write-in votes.
Incumbent Democrat Adam Gray of Merced was unopposed in the Merced County-based district. Merced Republican Greg Opinski withdrew from the race in May. In August, Opinski was arrested and charged with paying off at least one Los Banos school trustee to win a contract for a school expansion project.
Opinski’s withdrawal came too late for his name to be removed from the ballot. Tuesday, Gray received 68.4 percent of the vote to 31.6 percent for Opinski.