A clear picture of the leader in the head-to-head state Assembly District 17 race materialized in the Tuesday primary election, which Board of Supervisors President David Chiu won with roughly 48 percent of the vote over board colleague Supervisor David Campos, who pulled about 43 percent.
The only other competitor, Republican candidate David Carlos Salaverry, took in 8 percent of the vote in the expected low-turnout election. The final victor between Campos and Chiu will be decided in the November election, but both candidates fought hard to come out on top in June as some endorsements remain outstanding and voters undecided.
Chiu, who received 26,217 votes, said his 5-percentage-point victory in the primary was "entirely what we expected."
"I'm really pleased with tonight's results," he told The San Francisco Examiner on Tuesday night. "Tonight's election sent a clear message that San Franciscans want a representative in Sacramento who can bring people together and deliver results versus someone who has engaged in a completely negative campaign and didn't have the record."
But Campos, who earned 23,367 votes, called the result a victory for his campaign and believes the 5-percentage-point difference means Chiu is "in trouble" for the next round.
"Our goal all along was to be within single digits and in fact this closes the gap even more," Campos said. "After all the money they spent in a more moderate electorate, we're very happy and we're in a very strong position for November."
Conventional wisdom pointed to Chiu as the winner in the June election because the electorate is more moderate and favors Campos in November when a higher turnout is expected, especially among progressives.
Chiu raised $920,884 for his campaign, nearly two times as much as Campos, who raised $475,000. Chiu spent $490,000, leaving $430,884 in his account, while Campos has $25,000 to $30,000 left.
In mid-May, virtually every Chinese leader rallied behind Chiu at Portsmouth Square except for longtime political power-broker Rose Pak.
But Chiu also set up his campaign headquarters in the Castro, San Francisco's historically gay neighborhood, and won endorsements from the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club, gay Supervisor Scott Wiener and others in the gay community..
David Lee, executive director of the Chinese American Voters Education Committee, attributed Chiu's primary victory to the Chinese-American absentee voter turnout being as much as 10 percentage points higher than the districtwide absentee voter turnout overall as of Friday.
"David Chiu has been working on Chinese outreach and is better known in the Chinese community and he's recognizable as one of the top Chinese-American elected officials in The City," Lee said. "And Asian voters have demonstrated overtime a strong identity vote."