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Wicks declares victory in assembly race, Beckles refuses to concede

on November 6, 2018

By Christi Warren, Mara Kardas-Nelson and Brandon Yadegari 

In the race to represent Richmond, Berkeley and north Oakland in the California State Assembly, Democratic establishment-backed candidate Buffy Wicks declared victory Wednesday morning over her opponent, democratic socialist-supported Jovanka Beckles.

But Beckles expressed concern with calling the outcome of the race for assembly district 15, saying there were still thousands of currently uncounted provisional ballots. She had not conceded as of noon Wednesday.

“I think it’s premature for any news outlet to call this race with so many provisional ballots still uncounted,” Beckles said.

With every precinct reporting by Wednesday morning, Wicks led with 56 percent of the vote to Beckles’ 44 percent, according to the Secretary of State’s election website. Beckles trailed about 11,000 votes behind in the race.

Buffy Wicks mingles with supporters at her watch party at the Golden Squirrel gastropub in Rockridge on Tuesday. (Photo by Stephanie Penn)

Contra Costa election officials agreed that there were still a substantial number of uncounted ballots.

Joseph Canciamilla, the registrar of voters for Contra Costa County, said, “we have a huge number of ballots that were dropped off or mailed in that are not in that count.” As a result, he said, a final tally would not be available for some time.

A clearly confident Wicks addressed the crowd late Tuesday night at her election party, promising that, “We’re going to lead the resistance movement with sound progressive policy in the Bay Area. That is how we take on Donald Trump.”

Some 250 people gathered for her party at the Golden Squirrel gastropub in Rockridge, sipping wine and craft beer and cheering to televised reports of Gavin Newsom’s gubernatorial win. “This campaign is about harnessing the progressive power that is the East Bay,” she said.

More than $3.75 million was spent on the race, with expenditures on behalf of Wicks’ outpacing Beckles’ by a margin of 4 to 1.

Wicks, a community organizer and former staffer for President Barack Obama, received endorsements from Sen. Kamala Harris, Newsom as well as Obama. Beckles, a Richmond City Council member and mental health worker, was endorsed by Sen. Bernie Sanders and his political group, Our Revolution, as well as the Democratic Socialists of America.

A little more than 3 miles away at Beckles’ Berkeley watch party, some 200 people—many wearing union buttons and Democratic Socialists of America T-shirts—mingled as they awaited election results.

The diverse crowd was all smiles, offering lots of hugs and cheers as hip-hop group Migos played over the soundsystem.

With the night winding down, Beckles said she was feeling “really good.”

Speech in hand, Jovanka Beckles makes for the stage at her election night party at Neyborly on Berkeley’s west side. (Photo by Brandon Yadegari)

“We’ve had amazing volunteers: environmentalists, union members, students,” she said. “It’s been beautiful the way that this diverse group of people came together to make this campaign successful, in my view, regardless of how it turns out. It’s still so early with regard to the results, so I look forward to seeing what those results are.”

By the next morning, Beckles was still not ready to concede defeats, saying she believed a significant number of provisional ballots remained uncounted.

Melissa Hickok, a Contra Costa election official, said that during the 2016 election there were more than 27,000 provisional ballots received in the county. District 15 also includes part of Alameda County.

Edward Booth and Barbara Harvey contributed to this report.

Richmond Confidential will be updating election stories periodically as more results come in.


  1. John Knox on November 7, 2018 at 9:36 am

    Mayor Butt got his wish. Beckles decided to run for Assembly and made the runoff (barely), and then got absolutely trounced in the general election. Now we have gotten rid of one of the most divisive and obnoxious members of the council (although Booze still wins the prize for that!). Beckles’ brand of extreme politics did not get anywhere on the larger stage. Gayle McLaughlin preceded her in reaching for higher office, failing at an attempt to run statewide for Lt. Governor.

    Richmond is the winner to be sure, as the grip of the RPA on Richmond politics slips away and athey no longer control the council. I am looking forward to seeing the city take advantage of some of the great opportunities ahead without having to deal with the bizarre antics of the RPA!

  2. John on November 7, 2018 at 9:55 am

    What a great day for Richmond. No more RPA majority, Beckles out of elective office altogether, and it looks like measure H passed. I really like both Zepeda and Pimple so it’s unfortunate they didn’t make the cut for council but still a great day.

  3. Lisa Hire on November 7, 2018 at 10:20 am

    Hurray! Hopefully, the new council will focus on the real issues affecting the people of Richmond.

  4. Carlos Higueros on November 7, 2018 at 2:50 pm

    Thank god she is no longer our problem! Welcome Demnlus Johnson III… please remember that we need real leadership not grandstanding and absenteeism.

  5. Ann Garrison on November 7, 2018 at 10:47 pm

    Jovanka’s right. Too early to concede.

  6. David on November 8, 2018 at 12:23 am

    Than you Richmond Confidential for doing serious coverage of AD15 Race, including actually following the $ of both candidates w/links to sources. Sad how little other Bay Area media covered this–you article “How charter school, real estate and healthcare money helped Wicks outspend Beckles by 4 to 1”

    Big $ in politics in counter to democracy. The Richmond Progressive Alliance did us all a favor when they made taking big, dirty $ more of a liability than an asset to candidates. We have to do this everywhere or watch big $ continue to dominate and wreck our communities.

  7. Sandra Davenport on November 8, 2018 at 12:28 am

    Finally some good things for Richmond. No more Ivanka in power in Richmond. No more RPA control of the council. It is a good day, indeed.

  8. Malia Everette on November 8, 2018 at 9:27 am

    As a long term resident of Richmond, and on an off again RPA activist member I see this race differently, both here in Richmond, in AS 15 and the nation. The campaigns of Gayle, Jovanka and others are important, and vital for a political system that is democratic and free of oligarchical corporate control. As one voice in the RPA I see how are candidates and community are running to highlight progressive values and messages, and hold the democratic party accountable to the needs of working families. I commend the community for sacrificing time and valuable resources to run within the system we have, and push issues that otherwise might get neglected by other candidates political strategists. We in Richmond can inspire young and diverse leadership, and may many more run, and yes even “loose”, yet we all win when passionate community advocates choose to represent the people and dig in. My hope is that the RPA inspires new members and mentors new community voices into political engagement. . . thus i take careful and respectful disagreement with others that comment on the ‘Bizarre Antics’ of the RPA. The RPA has redefined the political debate in Richmond and we will continue to do so.

  9. John on November 9, 2018 at 2:50 pm

    Fealty to progressive values as important as they are should never come at the expense of anti-democratic tendencies.

    The RPA loves to claim that its critics oppose progressive ideals and goals. What so many of us actually oppose is the use of the banner of progressivism to mask the grabbing and hoarding of political power.

  10. Jane on November 9, 2018 at 5:34 pm

    Buffy Wicks is not a true progressive. Anyone who takes money from Walmart, the Apartment Owner’s Association, the Charter Schools, and Republicans is not a progressive. What a veneer of BS. It’s the Clinton machine and the corporate democrats that allowed an outsider, and person who never ran for office to win. The smears and lies were pathetic. People don’t really understand what Jovanka has done for the city. All they hear and read are the lies and distortions coming from Tom Butt on his one-way e-forum, his son, Daniel, and other mostly Point Richmond followers of Tom Butt. Voters have no idea how corrupt Tom Butt is.

  11. John on November 10, 2018 at 6:54 am

    Anyone who has attended a council meeting or watched meeting video knows all they need to know about Jovanka. Happily none of us need to know anything about her any longer.

  12. Sandra on November 11, 2018 at 9:19 pm

    I’ve lived here a helluva long time. I know exactly what Jovanka has done for the city. For those she approves of, mind you. There were no lies about Jovanka. Everything said was true. I’m happy beyond bounds that Wicks has won. It was a good campaign, she ran it well, it was honest and forthright. I am proud to have been on her team.

  13. Amanda B. Wreckenwith on November 16, 2018 at 6:03 pm

    Thank you Jovanka for running this race! Concede nothing until the last ballot is counted! Wicks is probably under pressure to declare herself the winner early…after all, millions were invested to achieve that result…

  14. Sandra Davenport on November 19, 2018 at 3:33 pm

    Congratulations Buffy. I am happy to have been a volunteer on your campaign!

  15. John Knox on November 28, 2018 at 8:44 pm

    Buffy will be sworn in this Monday in Sacramento. She has maintained a commanding lead based on the last vote count released today (not that it was ever seriously in doubt). Is it finally time for Beckles to do the right thing and concede, and offer to work with Buffy for the people of our district? I hope so.

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