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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jsullivandr.