David Harmer, of San Ramon, defeated Brad Goehring, of Clements, in the campaign to determine who will try to oust Democrat Jerry McNerney from his congressional seat.
With all 544 precincts reporting, Harmer had 18,504 votes (36.4 percent). Goehring was a second with 14,120 votes (27.8 percent).
Tony Amador, of Lodi, was third with 9,877 votes (19.4 percent), and Elizabeth Emken, of Danville, finished fourth with 8,361 votes (16.4 percent).
In San Joaquin County, Goehring led Harmer 39.7 percent to 27.3 percent. But in Alameda and Contra Costa counties, Harmer dominated.
"It's going to be a real happy night for the Harmer family either way," Harmer said. "If we win, we will be happy to be able to serve. If not, we'll be happy to return to a normal life."
Goehring says he thinks he can beat McNerney in November.
"There is real anti-incumbent sentiment out there, and McNerney has not represented this district and the district knows it," Goehring said.
The four Republicans fought tooth and nail for the right to face McNerney, D-Pleasanton, in the November election. The four generally agreed on most issues, painting themselves as staunch conservatives and accusing McNerney of being a puppet for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
As the Republican campaign came to a close, candidates spewed bad blood at each other. Although he's never held elected office, Harmer was labeled as a career politician who lost to John Garamendi in a special election last November before running in the neighboring 11th District. Harmer's opponents also criticized him for living two miles outside the 11th District and for using one of his supporters to help organize a candidates forum in Stockton.
Goehring got into political hot water over a Facebook post in which he declared hunting season on liberals. Amador's opponents questioned whether he resigned from the U.S. Marshal's office under pressure last year.
Goehring prided himself for his agricultural roots in San Joaquin County and how he wants to make life easier for farmers and business people.
In any case, Harmer said all four Republican candidates are committed to support whoever the nominee is.
The sprawling 11th Congressional District includes the entire Lodi area and much of San Joaquin County, then heads west through the Delta to Brentwood and the Livermore and San Ramon valleys. It even includes the southern Santa Clara County community of Morgan Hill.
An informal poll of voters in Lodi on Tuesday night showed little knowledge about the four congressional candidates.
"I only listen to my parents' propaganda," said Griffin Hernandez, who voted at Lakewood Elementary School north of Turner Road. "I don't really know enough about the candidates."
Hernandez voted for Goehring, but he doesn't recall why his parents recommended him.
A man who voted at Lawrence Elementary cast his ballot for Goehring because of his farming background.
But the man, who declined to give his name because he sells real estate in Lodi, was cynical about whoever ends up representing Lodi in Washington, D.C.
"Once they go over there, they change," he said.
Harold Brown, who also voted at Lawrence Elementary, says it doesn't matter who wins.
"My wife and I are small-business owners, and my customers are telling me that things aren't getting better," Brown said. "I don't know if there will ever be an honest politician, but I'm hoping."