Despite having a massive financial advantage and the backing of powerful Democratic Party and union allies, Santa Rosa Assemblyman Michael Allen lost his bid for another term to a relative political unknown.
That shocking reality was confirmed Friday after Sonoma County officials finished counting outstanding votes from the Nov. 6 election.
The results showed San Rafael City Councilman Marc Levine edged Allen 51.2 percent to 48.8 percent, a difference of 4,448 votes. In another surprise, Levine won both Sonoma and Marin counties.
Allen's losing bid for the 10th Assembly District seat is a blow for the interests that backed him, notably for Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, whose main priority this year was getting members of his caucus re-elected, his spokesman said.
It's also a personal and professional setback for Allen, who was elected to the Assembly in 2010 and was quickly elevated, courtesy of Perez, to a position of leadership in the Legislature. Instead, Levine will be sworn into office Monday.
"As with anything, when you work very hard and you don't accomplish what you wanted, it's disappointing," Allen said Friday.
Allen had appeared to be primed for a long career in the Legislature and for a prominent role in local Democratic Party politics. As an attorney, former nurse and labor leader, he has strong connections with important constituencies in the North Bay.
Allen also was a district director for former state Sen. Pat Wiggins, D-Santa Rosa, who built a political machine on the North Coast around an agenda that favors unions, social and environmental advocacy and limited growth.
Allen mustered those resources in 2010 when he eked out a victory over Vallejo City Councilman Michael Wilson for the 7th District Assembly seat. He relied on that help again after he chose to run in the newly drawn 10th District, which spans Marin County, part of Santa Rosa and portions of western and southern Sonoma County.
"We walked. We phoned. You name it, we did it," said Lisa Maldonado, executive director of the North Bay Labor Council.