Incumbent Democratic candidate Richard Pan defeated Republican Tony Amador in their race to represent the 9th Assembly District on Tuesday.
With all 333 precincts reporting, unofficial results show Pan received 86,052 votes (58.9 percent) and Amador received 60,093 votes (41.1 percent). The results were last updated at 10:59 a.m. Monday, Dec. 3, 2012.
Amador carried San Joaquin County with 63.7 percent of the vote to Pan’s 36.3 percent, but Pan dominated in Sacramento County, which holds the majority of voters.
Amador, a retired U.S. Marshal, said he campaigned aggressively but knew the race would be a tough one. Amador spent $55,400 compared to $794,500 for Pan, a Sacramento pediatrician and member of the Assembly.
The 9th District extends from Lodi north into Elk Grove and South Sacramento. Voter registration tilts heavily Democratic; 45 percent of voters are registered Democrat to 32 percent Republican.
Pan’s campaign outspent Amador $794,500 to $55,400. Pan enjoyed a strong advantage in party registration, as Democrats reflect 45 percent of district voters and Republicans 32 percent.
“We knew if the vote reflected the numbers, this would be very difficult,” Amador said. “But we felt guardedly optimistic, based on our grassroots support and the people who care about issues, not just party affiliation.”
Amador spent election night at Vince’s Restaurant in Elk Grove, thanking family, friends and supporters.
“I’ve shared with my family that, win or lose, this has been absolutely worthwhile,” he said. “I have made new friends and been very humbled that so many people supported my beliefs and my positions.”
Amador said he was not a traditional party-line Republican candidate, as he declined to sign the Grover Norquist oath refusing to raise taxes.
“The pledge, to me, doesn’t make sense. What if we wanted to do something for the service men and women coming back with head trauma from Afghanistan? What if we needed more money to do that? I didn’t want to close that door,” he said.
Amador, who ran unsuccessfully for Congress and the Lodi City Council, also supports the Dream Act, providing a path to citizenship for undocumented youths who complete educational or military requirements. The Dream Act is not widely supported by Republican leaders.
“To me, the Dream Act is something we as a party should have been in front on, not behind on,” Amador said. “I am independent — my allegiance is more to the voters than to partisan politics.”
He is pro-business and won endorsements by chambers of commerce in Lodi, Elk Grove and Galt.
Pan won endorsements from many labor unions and the Sierra Club, among others.
As results solidified his lead Tuesday night, Pan said he is looking forward to spending more time in Lodi.
“I’ve been to Lodi many times and have met with folks down there, especially in the ag community,” he said. “I am very interested in becoming more engaged in the community, especially in ag issues.”
Asked what he felt made the different for his apparent victory, Pan said, “People are looking for people to solve problems and come up with practical solutions. I think that is what I’ve tried to do in the Assembly and will continue to do.”
Both Amador and Pan opposed the plan to ship water around the Delta through a system of giant tunnels.
Otherwise, they presented sharply different views on key issues.
Pan favored Proposition 30, raising taxes for education, while Amador opposed it.
Amador favored Proposition 32, aimed at limiting the political power of unions, and Pan opposed it.
Pan has represented the Natomas area of Sacramento, but redistricting left him living in the same district as fellow Democratic incumbent Roger Dickinson.
Pan moved south to the 9th District rather than compete against Dickinson. After moving to the Pocket neighborhood, which is in the 9th, Pan drew some criticism for accepting a per diem designed to help out-of-town legislators. The payments tally roughly $30,000 annually.