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Candidate for State Assembly 16th District Catharine Baker is photographed in studio in Walnut Creek, Calif., on Friday, April 18, 2014. (Dan Honda/Bay Area News Group)

As primary elections go, Tuesday's polling was, well, a bore.

At least it seemed to be for much of the East Bay. That assessment was buttressed by the abysmal voter turnout in both Alameda and Contra Costa counties.

Neither county managed to draw 20 percent of its voters to the polls largely because of a dearth of competitive races or interesting issues on the ballot.

Nearly all of the significant offices in both counties that usually provide election fireworks saw incumbents running unopposed. For example, the sheriff, district attorney and assessor in both counties were re-elected without opposition as were four members of the board of supervisors -- two in each county.

Still, there was one race that provided some interest.

The four-way race for the seat in Assembly District 16, which covers portions of both counties, was the East Bay's highest profile race.

The race essentially was a test of whether an independent Democrat, Steve Glazer, could successfully buck the public-employee union dominance of his party to land a spot in the primary. The answer was no.

In the end, the race came out exactly as most analysts had forecast.


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Republican candidate Catharine Baker came in first, which was expected because she is a solid candidate and the only Republican in the race. That left three candidates to battle it out in the Democrat-majority district for the right to face Baker in November's general election. But really the race was between Glazer, Jerry Brown's political strategist, and union-backed Dublin Mayor Tim Sbranti. Newell Arnerich, a Danville Democrat councilman, simply did not have enough name recognition nor the funds to buy it.

Glazer had bucked public-employee unions by vocally opposing last year's two BART strikes and arguing for legislation to ban such strikes. Sbranti, a member of a public-employee union himself, had supported the BART unions during the strikes.

The two campaigns as well as independent expenditure committees went to war on the Bay Area's airwaves. Each aired television and radio commercials that took direct aim at the other and largely ignored both Baker and Arnerich. That allowed Baker to keep her advertising powder dry for the general election. But neither she nor Arnerich will be ignored going forward.

Baker has taken similar positions to Glazer on the BART issue, so she can expect Sbranti to turn his media barrage toward her and he can expect her to respond. Meanwhile, the more than 11 percent of the voters who voted for Arnerich will suddenly become a sought-after group as will Glazer's voters, many of whom voted for him because of his position on transit strikes.

So, clearly, voters should expect to hear much more about this race between now and November.