Huffman a likely shoo-in for Congress

Democratic Assemblyman Jared Huffman is a safe bet to win the North Coast seat in Congress in the Nov. 6 election, filling the vacancy created by Rep. Lynn Woolsey's retirement after 20 years on Capitol Hill.

Huffman, who is termed out of his Sonoma-Marin County Assembly seat, picked up Woolsey's endorsement after dominating the June primary with 37.5 percent of the vote in a 12-candidate race.

More telling, however, is that Huffman and seven other Democrats tallied 75 percent of the vote in a district where Democrats account for nearly half of the 397,600 registered voters.

Republicans and voters with no party preference each have about 22 percent.

Huffman, 48, of San Rafael publicly launched his campaign in December 2010, on the day Woolsey confirmed her impending retirement.

He's run a textbook campaign, starting with an advantage in name recognition after six years in Sacramento. He has raised more than $1.24 million in campaign contributions and amassed more than 800 endorsements.

His Republican opponent, Dan Roberts, a Tiburon securities broker, finished second in the primary with 15 percent of the vote and has financed his campaign largely with his own loans of $210,000.

Roberts, 69, said in jest that he'd like stormy weather on Election Day to hold down voter turnout — "and I need a miracle."

The North Coast hasn't been in play politically since Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, stepped up from the state Senate in 1998 and won the first of seven straight terms by an average 65 percent of the vote.

Thompson, who also endorsed Huffman, was shifted this year to a new inland district that includes his Napa County home.

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