Bonta Extends Lead in East Bay Assembly Race

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A woman in a blue and white short-sleeved shirt smiling and looking to the left of the camera
Mia Bonta, who is running for East Bay Assembly District 18, which includes the cities of Oakland, Alameda and San Leandro, at her campaign headquarters in Oakland on June 23, 2021. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

Mia Bonta, who has already declared victory in an East Bay Assembly race, extended her lead over her opponent by more than 13 points Friday.

Bonta declared victory Thursday for the Assembly District 18 seat representing San Leandro, Alameda and much of Oakland. In a press release, Bonta said that she is “ready to go to Sacramento and get to work!”

Her opponent, social justice attorney Janani Ramachandran, is trailing with 43% of the vote. In a statement Thursday Ramachandran said she was not yet conceding. “While the window for our campaign has certainly narrowed, I am mindful of our commitment as Democrats to make sure every vote counts. We should count every vote before we make final declarations.”

The registrar’s office did not return inquiries about how many ballots are left to tally. As of Friday afternoon, Ramachandran was behind more than 10,000 votes.

Bonta, president of the Alameda Unified School District's Board of Education and CEO of Oakland Promise, has been leading since preliminary results were posted Tuesday.


If declared the winner, she would fill the seat of her husband, Rob Bonta, who left the Assembly after being appointed state attorney general by Gov. Gavin Newsom. She would serve the rest of his term and face reelection next year.

"I am honored and grateful that you have put your trust in me to represent our community in Sacramento,” Bonta said.

All registered voters were sent mail-in ballots for the special election that was triggered by the June primary in which Bonta and Ramachandran were the top votes. However, neither received more than 50% of the vote.

The two Democrats both consider themselves progressives. With nearly two-thirds of voters registering as Democrats, the 18th Assembly District is one of the most liberal in the state.

In thanking her staff and supporters, Bonta referred to her campaign as “people powered.”

Ramachandran had repeatedly criticized Bonta for taking corporate donations. “Where money comes from in campaigns, is connected to policy,” Ramachandran said in an interview Wednesday.

She has also said that Bonta benefited from her husband’s political connections. “We went up against truly a political machine,’” said Ramachandran.  “I’m so grateful for getting into the top two ... through people power.”

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Bonta has denied that her husband’s position would influence her decisions in the Legislature. She has touted her long experience working in the community, saying it would make her effective in Sacramento.

In an interview with KQED Friday, Bonta said that if confirmed as the winner, she is eager to  first tackle issues linked to the pandemic, including an extension of the state's eviction moratorium. "The economic challenges that many of us have faced require us to make sure that we continue to extend the eviction moratorium so that people can feel safe in their homes," Bonta said.

The moratorium is set to expire at the end of September.