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.
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.”
“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.
Richmond Confidential is an online news service produced by the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism for, and about, the people of Richmond, California. Our goal is to produce professional and engaging journalism that is useful for the citizens of the city.