Two sitting Assembly members, Democrat Cathleen Galgiani and Republican Bill Berryhill, will compete for the open 5th State Senate District seat, which covers the Lodi and Galt areas. San Joaquin County Supervisor Leroy Ornellas appeared to be eliminated from the November election.
With all 612 precincts reporting early today, Galgiani led with 38,547 votes, or 41.3 percent. Berryhill had 33,504 votes, or 35.9 percent, and Ornellas received 21,190 votes, or 22.7 percent.
The new open-primary system calls for the top two candidates, regardless of party, to compete for the seat in November.
The Senate race featured three candidates who already hold public office, two in the Assembly and one on the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors.
Berryhill, 54, has lived most of his life in Ceres, where he is a farmer and former school board member. He also owns a vineyard in Clements.
Berryhill is 26th District assemblyman, which includes the Victor-Lockeford-Clements-Morada area. After talking to his brother, Tom Berryhill, Bill Berryhill decided to move north to the San Joaquin County-based 5th Senate District while his brother remained in a Stanislaus County district.
Berryhill has large support from agriculture and touts himself as a moderate Republican, more-so than Republican opponent Ornellas. While Republicans may frown at moderates in their party, Berryhill says that’s the only way a Republican can be effective in the Legislature.
Unlike many Republicans, Berryhill didn’t sign the “no tax” pledge to give himself more flexibility in negotiating with Democrats. Ornellas had signed it.
Ornellas, on the other hand, said he sees the best way to compromise with Democrats is to have closer to an event amount of Legislators from each party.
Galgiani, 48, maintains that she’s a moderate Democrat, though Republicans strongly disagree. She represents the 17th Assembly District, which includes Tracy and parts of Stanislaus and Merced counties. She moved to Stockton, where she once lived. She is a 1982 graduate of Tokay High School.
Galgiani’s pride and joy is getting the high-speed rail funded. She wrote the legislation that placed the 2008 bond on the ballot. It was approved by voters. The train would travel up to 200 mph.
Ornellas, 68, is a Tracy dairyman and labels himself as a maverick in Sacramento. His motto is “No more bull.”
Issues include the state’s prison “realignment plan,” which transfers prisons from state prison to county jails, incentives to help business and reduce state regulations on farmers.
“I think Leroy and I put on a gentlemanly campaign,” Berryhill said. “I have a ton of respect for Leroy.”
Contact reporter Ross Farrow at email@example.com.