Despite a substantial fundraising disadvantage, San Rafael City Councilman Marc Levine narrowly edged Michael Allen Tuesday night in the race to represent the 10th District in the State Assembly.
Levine garnered 68,189 votes, or 50.6 percent of the votes cast, to Allen's 66,526, or 49.4 percent.
"I'm very proud of our campaign and we're cautiously optimistic," Levine said at his election night party Tuesday night before final Sonoma County tallies came in around 1:20 a.m. and sealed his advantage.
Levine faced a powerful sitting assemblyman in Allen, who represented the 7th District that included Napa County as well as parts of Sonoma and Solano counties until it was splintered by redistricting, prompting Allen to move to downtown San Rafael to run.
Levine had built a solid lead in Marin, holding a 52-48 advantage. Although Levine's campaign contributions were a fraction of Allen's, the councilman stayed just ahead of the assemblyman by the end of the evening.
"I don't think anyone believed we'd be this competitive," Levine said. "I'm proud that we've given the voters of Marin and Sonoma a choice."
Allen received more than $1.4 million in campaign contributions, including $700,000 from independent expenditure committees. Levine only raised $253,000 in contributions and over $250,000 from independent expenditure committees.
Both candidates are Democrats and vied for endorsements. Allen focused on his experience with solving problems in the legislature during his campaign, while Levine zeroed in on the changes the he could bring to state government.
"I think it was interesting that since both candidates were Democrats, their opponents tried to make them look Republican," Lane Kasselman said at a party in support of Levine.
Kasselman was referring to the recent storm of campaign mailers that filled voters' mailboxes leading up to the election. After Allen got the California Democratic Party's endorsement, the organization portrayed Levine as a closeted Republican with backing from agri-businesses that pollute. On the cover of one mailer, the Democrat's donkey hides Levine's face with the phrase "Someone's masking who he really is."
At the Marin Democratic Party Headquarters in San Rafael, Allen and newly-elected congressman Jared Huffman celebrated the election results with more than 250 people.
"Michael Allen will be your next assemblyman," Huffman said. "Those votes will come in."
Levine celebrated the end of his campaign with a small group of friends at Aurora Art Studios on 1350 Fourth St.
"I want to thank my wife, Wendy, who's been a source of strength through this," Levine said.