State Assembly Jared Huffman said he never dreamed of earning a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Regardless, he's now a significant step closer an office inside the U.S. Capitol.
"Even when I got elected to the Assembly, I assumed it would be six years of that and then onto something else," the Democrat from San Rafael said Tuesday night. "But lot of stars aligned."
Early returns from Tuesday's primary election showed Huffman leading the field of 12 candidates competing for a U.S. congressional seat held for two decades by Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma. California's redesigned District 2 includes much of the state's northern coast.
As of 11:17 p.m., Huffman had garnered 38.1 percent of the vote, with 277 of 732 precincts reporting. Republican Dan Roberts was in second place, with 15.6 percent of the vote. Norman Solomon, a West Marin activist and Democrat who analysts had predicted would come in second, was in third place with 13.1 percent of the vote.
The top two finishers, regardless of party, will compete in the November general election, thanks to the state's new primary election system.
Huffman spent the evening at an election night party on the campus of Dominican University in San Rafael. With all precincts reporting in Marin, he received 47.1 percent of the local vote with Solomon second at 13.9 percent and Roberts third at 12.8 percent.
"I'm feeling great," he said. "This was a long journey, a lot of hard work. Friends from every part of my life — my neighbors, my political friends, fellow parents at our kids' schools, people from all over the district — they all came through and worked very hard to put us in this position. This strong showing is incredible."
Huffman said Woolsey's retirement and the district's realignment made his camp believe he could run competitively in the district.
"All of that was beyond my control," he said. "But the big one was that my own family wanted me to do this. I assumed that we had such a good thing going here in Marin that my six years in the Assembly would be the end, but they wanted me to keep going. That is a big part of why I'm here in this position tonight. Without a complete buy-in by my family, it wouldn't happen."
The newly redrawn district runs along the Pacific Coast north of San Francisco, stretching from Marin County to the Oregon border. It includes only part of Sonoma County.
Also competing in the race were Democrats Susan Adams, Stacey Lawson, Tiffany Renee, William Courtney, Larry Fritzlan and Andy Caffrey; Republican Mike Halliwell; and unaffiliated candidates Brooke Clarke and John Lewallen.
Huffman said he's eager to shift the campaign to the next gear all the way into November.
"And the great thing is that we don't have to change anything because this campaign is built to last," he said. "We have a broad base of support because I wasn't trying to pit one group against others. We had a broad outreach to the whole community and it was positive and issue-based, and I think it's a winning formula."
For coverage of the Congressional race, click here.
— Bay City News Service contributed to this report.