Solano County

DA race post mortem shows key developments, vote breakdown

By From page A1 | June 08, 2014

FAIRFIELD — Even after pumping $420,000 into his own election bid, Solano County District Attorney Donald A. du Bain lost to his opponent, prosecutor Krishna A. Abrams, who won the Tuesday election using roughly $50,000.

Abrams won a countywide race in spite of being outspent by a likely 10-1 ratio.

Du Bain will likely have spent roughly $19.45 for each of the 23,145 votes he got in his losing effort while Abrams will likely have spent about $2 for each of her 24,562 winning votes, according to the most current information from the registrar of voters office about the election that had a very low turnout – a bit more than 26 percent.

Campaign autopsy

The candidate statement du Bain penned for the election handbook mailed by the county to every voter focused on three things: prosecutor ethics, Truancy Court and a Family Justice Center in Fairfield. Du Bain’s candidate statement made no mention of fighting crime.

Abrams waited until the final day of the filing period to formalize her campaign but she had spent weeks testing the political waters and getting a wide range of advice from local politicos.

She announced her run for office on the steps of the courthouse to a small crowd of supporters, describing it as a “David versus Goliath” effort against an incumbent, her boss, who already had more than $80,000 left over from 2010 when he ran unopposed for his first term of office after putting $100,000 of his own money into the campaign – a move that scared off possible opponents.

Abrams’ first fundraiser raised about $1,300 but was followed a few days later by du Bain doubling down by putting another $80,000 into his campaign.

What Abrams lacked in cash, she offset with the benefit of long-term working relationships with many police officers and sheriff’s deputies throughout the county.

A month after the contest started, Abrams announced she had won the endorsements of most law enforcement and firefighters in the county. The law enforcement endorsement for his opponent left du Bain with the support of some retired local chiefs of police, the support of the current and former sheriff, an endorsement by prosecutors under his supervision, and the endorsement of a crime victims group.

Within a few weeks of Abrams getting the law enforcement endorsements, du Bain had put an additional $170,000 into his campaign.

Ultimately much of du Bain’s spending was for large glossy mailers and signs – all of them featuring the phrase “Tough Justice.” Many of them included a lengthy endorsement list of local officials, many of them retired.

One mailer touted the truancy court, which handles a handful of parents every few weeks, which du Bain linked to fewer murders and a sharp drop in felony assaults in the future. Multiple mailers featured the Family Justice Center, that within a few weeks during the campaign was claiming to have doubled the number of clients it served – from 200 to 400 – but the numbers still added up to serving an average of one or two people a day.

Time runs out

An analysis and comparison of all votes for either candidate as of Friday reveals the last-minute blitz by du Bain did nothing to significantly shift votes his way or to damage Abrams’ voting trends. The analysis was of 10,587 people who voted on Election Day, the 28,516 voters who mailed in their ballots days ahead of Election Day and the 9,079 voters who dropped off their vote-by-mail ballots at a polling place on Election Day.

With less than two weeks until Election Day, du Bain began pouring more of his money into his campaign – another $140,000.

In the days just before the election, du Bain mailers, some of them duplicates, began arriving nearly daily in thousands of mailboxes. Some voters received as many as three du Bain mailers on the same day.

It was ultimately an expensive but futile effort. The final vote results revealed that 78 percent of all votes cast were done by mail and most of those had been sent in before du Bain’s final campaign splurge.

Altogether, du Bain sent out at least 10 mailers to voters including two 11th-hour mailers that used mocking cartoons, referenced Abrams’ family, accused her of carpetbagging and emphasized her contributions from local criminal defense attorneys.

Abrams sent out two mailers – both focusing on her experience and her law enforcement support.

Election night ended with Abrams leading by 1,035 votes – roughly 51 percent to du Bain’s 48 percent. By week’s end, after the final count of vote-by-mail ballots, her lead over her boss had grown to 1,417 votes.

Du Bain blamed his loss on the controversy about how his office handled information pertaining to the secret Sheriff’s Office investigation and firing of the doctor who performed dozens of autopsies in homicide cases. That controversy peaked in April. Du Bain also said recent faulty data on criminal convictions played a role in his loss, though he has yet to provide revised data.

North county/South county

Abrams’ strongest support was in Dixon and Vacaville. She got 60 percent of the vote in Dixon and 57 percent of the vote in Vacaville. Abrams won every precinct in Dixon and all but one of 34 precincts in Vacaville. They tied in one precinct.

While du Bain carried 24 of Fairfield’s and Suisun City’s 38 precincts, the total number of votes for Abrams gave her roughly a 52 percent to 48 percent lead in those city’s votes.

Du Bain prevailed in Rio Vista – 52 percent to 48 percent, but the margin of victory was fewer than 100 of the 2,072 votes cast.

Voters in the unincorporated parts of Solano County split evenly, with both Abrams and du Bain each getting a bit more than 300 votes.

Du Bain carried nine out of 10 of Benicia’s precincts and he won the vote count there, 53 percent to 47 percent.

While du Bain carried 26 of Vallejo’s 38 precincts, the total vote was a 50-50 split. Du Bain got 25 more votes in Vallejo – 5,313 to 5,288.

Abrams will take the helm at the District Attorney’s Office in January.

Reach Jess Sullivan at 427-6919 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jsullivandr.

Jess Sullivan

Jess has covered the criminal justice system in Solano County for several years. He was an embedded reporter in Iraq in 2003.

Discussion | 12 comments

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  • Tax PayerJune 08, 2014 - 5:54 am

    Nice to see that for once a candidate did not buy his seat. Let's see if this happens with Jerry Brown. I doubt it.

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  • rlw895June 08, 2014 - 7:54 am

    Brown won't need to buy his reelection.

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  • TylerJune 08, 2014 - 8:01 am

    Because he already has with sops to labor and big agriculture.

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  • Mr. PracticalJune 08, 2014 - 6:19 pm

    Brown will still buy the election. It just won't take much to do it.

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  • Thin Blue LineJune 08, 2014 - 8:06 am

    The best candidate won! Thankfully. Now let's get back to convicting these people who deserve to be behind bars. No more need for false reporting of convictions and no files!

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  • S KJune 08, 2014 - 8:25 am

    Ray Charles could have seen why Du Bain lost, His office's REVOLVING DOOR of justice, nothing more. Break the law, no matter how serious, get a free pass, and get out on a low enough bail, going through that revolving door, and break some more laws, cause some more shootings, etc. while out on bail. Get caught again revolve some more. Some of these Perps shouldn't be let loose and should be left IN THE JAIL. They need to be UNDER THE JAIL, as Dr. Phil would say. Hopefully the new D.A. will GET ER DONE, otherwise she'll find herself in the same position that Du Bain is in>>>>>YOU'RE FIRED!!!!!

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  • BSJune 08, 2014 - 9:01 am

    There are a couple things some of you need to know. Thogh there are lots of statutes out there to arrest people on, the standard a prosecutor has to convict is higher then the standard a police officer has to arrest. If the DA can't prove their case, they shouldn't waste tax payer dollars trying to. Also, getting convictions on charges such as marijuana is a waste. There is no where to put these people. With jail over crowding AND the prison release mandate, whats the point. Not the DA's fault. Thats way above their head. Why Don duBain lost was because he wasn't involved in the daily ins and outs of the office. He was a horible trial attorney and didn't know how to try cases. He's indecisive at best and left the daily running of his office to his supervisors while he was out hobknobbing. The choices he made for supervisors were bad ones. Jack Allen and Terry Ray were the two most corrupt prosecutors in his office. duBain was aware of the accusations being made about them and he chose to leave them in charge of the office. Ultimately it was Ray in the forefront of the Dr. Hogan scandle. Abrams will be a hands on boss. How do I know that? Because her heart is in the courtroom and not at the capital like her soon to be predesessor. Abrams has one goal, and thats to prosecute those people who victimize, focus on the most serious offenses and to make sure her office has the leadership to help those get it done right. duBain didn't care what happenes here because he doesn't live here. He was raised in an environment that none of us could understand and he has no concept of how to deal with those less fortunate. duBain is a nice guy, or at least I thought so until the campaign. But he has no business trying to be a leader, especially in an environment that deals with those in circles he doesn't run in. Congratulations Krishna. You not only did it, but you did it without hitting below the belt like your opponent. you ran a classy campaign. Just run the office as it should be run. A bad case is a bad case. Move on to the next. Remember, duBain had a filing rate of 91 percent and a conviction rate of 23 percent. Not everyone who is accused is guilty!

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  • MikeJune 08, 2014 - 9:25 am

    Well written letter. Laws and mandates can hamper prosecution, but let's move on and get some trust in the office.

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  • LarrJune 08, 2014 - 10:00 am

    Time for a shake up where by rich Republicans can't buy an election!

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  • LarryJune 08, 2014 - 2:16 pm

    Rich democrats shouldn't be able to by an election as well.

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  • Susan DeverJune 08, 2014 - 12:14 pm

    BS, you nailed it.

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  • Mr. PracticalJune 08, 2014 - 6:21 pm

    BS, are you saying that anyone that doesn't live where they work doesn't care about their results at work?

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