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Orinda City Council member and State Assembly candidate Steve Glazer speaks with Gerry Braun, of San Diego, where he campaigns at the Walnut Creek BART in Walnut Creek, Calif., Monday, June 2, 2014. Braun called Glazer "the best guy ever" and said the two were college roommates in San Diego. Braun came up from San Diego to help his longtime friend campaign. (Susan Tripp Pollard/Bay Area News Group)

After one of the most heated, highest-spending primary elections this year, Republican Catharine Baker and Tim Sbranti earned the right to go head-to-head in the Nov. 4 general election for the 16th Assembly District seat.

Both candidates walked away with the top two vote-getting spots in the primary, with Baker garnering 36 percent and Sbranti about 30 percent of the vote. Candidate Steve Glazer trailed with about 22 percent of the vote, while Newell Arnerich won about 11 percent.

The primary election pit- the four hopefuls in a battle for the coveted seat held by the termed-out Joan Buchanan, with the two top vote-getters advancing to the general election. in one of the highest spending elections in the state so far this year.

With the Democratic vote being tugged in three directions, Baker, the lone Republican, was expected to earn one of the spots because conservative voters often turn out strongly in primary elections. But to win Nov. 4 in the blue-leaning district, which extends from east of the Berkeley hills through Orinda and Walnut Creek to the Tri-Valley, might prove to be a greater challenge: The 16th district is about 40 percent Democrat, 32 percent Republican and 22 percent nonpartisan.

Throughout the primary, the two Democratic frontrunners with the strongest financial support, Glazer and Sbranti, clashed in a spirited race.

Legions of ads and commercials were launched between the two candidates' camps. Unions have spent more than $1.7 million to back Dublin Mayor Sbranti, a high school teacher and labor activist. And more than $1.9 million from real-estate interests, charter school advocates and the California Chamber of Commerce, have been spent to support Orinda Vice Mayor Glazer, a longtime political strategist who was an adviser for Gov. Jerry Brown.

Glazer, one of the few high-profile Democrats to call for a ban on future BART strikes, stood in direct opposition to Sbranti, who defended BART workers' right to strike.

Arnerich, the only candidate without independent expenditures backing him, said he was the only true independent candidate in the race.

GOP favorite Baker, a Pleasanton attorney who lives in Dublin, has came out strongly on reining in state debt and said she's the only candidate who has actually backed a legislative bill calling for a state ban on BART strikes -- a Republican-led effort that didn't get far.

Contact Joyce Tsai at 925-847-2123. Follow her at Twitter.com/joycetsainews.