By Almanac and Palo Alto Weekly staff
Palo Alto Councilman Marc Berman finished first in the eight-candidate race to succeed Rich Gordon in the 24th Assembly District, according to election night results with all precincts reporting.
Attorney Vicki Veenker came in second, followed closely by Menlo Park Councilman Peter Ohtaki.
The two top vote-getters will head into the November election to square off for Gordon's seat in the district, which includes Palo Alto, East Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Atherton, Woodside, Portola Valley, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Sunnyvale, a part of Cupertino and the San Mateo County coastside from El Granada to the Santa Cruz County border.
Berman and Veenker are Democrats and Ohtaki is a Republican.
With all precincts reporting in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, Berman received 19,817 votes (28.2 percent of the total), followed by Veenker with 15,294 (21.8 percent) and Ohtaki with 14,071 (20.0 percent).
In San Mateo County, Berman received 4,844 votes (31.2 percent of the total), Ohtaki, 4,090 (26.4 percent) and Veenker, 3,074 (19.8 percent).
In Santa Clara County, Berman received 14,973 (27.4 percent of the total), Veenker, 12,220 (22.3 percent) and Ohtaki, 9,981 (18.2 percent).
Ohtaki, the lone Republican candidate in the heavily Democratic district, spent his election night at Menlo Park City Hall, where the City Council was reviewing the budget for the coming fiscal year. He told the Almanac he was "very pleased" with the early results, "given that my budget was a fraction of the other candidates."
Ohtaki, who was one of the last candidates to join the race, raised about $25,000 for his bid, less than 10 percent of what was raised and spent by his two main rivals in the race for a November showdown.
In addition to the financial disadvantage, Ohtaki noted that the Republican turnout was probably lower than it would have been if there had been competition for the party's presidential nominee. Conversely, the Democratic turnout was probably stronger because of the contest between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.
Ohtaki said he had expected the race to be tight between himself and Veenker, based on his own spreadsheet modeling. "I can't afford to do any polling," he said.
Instead of having an election party, he planned to celebrate his wife's and daughter's birthday after the council meeting.