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From the very beginning the race to become the next Sacramento County, Ca., Superior Court Judge was trench warfare. And although the most expensive judge race in California history came to an end Tuesday night, don’t expect the badmouthing to stop. As civil litigator Trena Burger savored her pricey victory Tuesday night with about 100 supporters and pitchers of spiked Vietnamese punch, her opponent Donald Steed II was across town accusing Burger of every dirty political trick in the book — everything from lying about his record to stealing his campaign signs. He then vowed to do everything in his power to spread the word that such tactics don’t belong in a judge’s race. “It’s outrageous,” Steed said about a contest that nearly hit the $1 million. “This is a judge’s race here.” Steed said that not only did Burger spend close to three quarters of a million dollars to win the $118,000-a-year post — more than $600,000 was her own money — but that she so trashed his reputation in the process that it left his poor parents in tears. The accusations had little effect on Burger. As the numbers began rolling in around 10 p.m. showing Steed down by four percentage points, Burger took time out from hugging her friends and jumping up and down to defend her campaign. “People are concerned about the judiciary, it was the only way to get my message out,” she said. She also accused Steed — who spent $200,000 — of going negative first, prompting her to up the ante. Burger, who outspent the mayoral winner, added that she saw no problem with judicial candidates campaigning like regular politicians and predicted it was merely a sign of things to come. By spending her own money, she said, she was not beholden to anyone. “It makes me more responsive to the people,” she said. “I will be a better judge for it.” By 11 p.m. the race was all but over and Burger would win it by 12 points. Still, Steed wasn’t going away quietly. The career prosecutor, who was endorsed by 24 superior court judges, added that she will be known as the judge who bought her seat. “I think there’s going to be some problems with Ms. Burger on the bench,” he said. “The real story’s going to come out later.” SACRAMENTO BOUND Trial lawyers pulled out all the stops this year trying to get Democrat candidates elected, and at first glance it seems their strategy may have worked. Final but unofficial numbers show that in the California Assembly the Democrats added four seats to bring their total number to 50, while in the state Senate they added one. Republicans on the other hand lost three Legislative seats total and now have 30 in the Assembly and 14 in the Senate. According to the Civil Justice Association of California, Democratic candidates in legislative races were the main benefactors of lawyer contributions, which hit the $5 million mark by Election Day. Assembly Speaker Robert Hertzberg received more than $100,000 in lawyer contributions, including a $52,000 windfall from the Consumer Attorneys of California on Nov. 2. San Francisco Assemblywoman Carol Migden was also a big beneficiary, receiving more than $30,000 as of Sept. 30. Of the $3,185,000 that trial lawyers gave as of Sept. 30, Democratic candidates received almost $3 million while Republicans got just under $200,000. Most of that money came from individual lawyers and law firms. What does this mean for the CAOC and their lobbying efforts at the Capital? “Who knows?” said CAOC president Bruce Broillet. “It looks like the election was good for the people of California.” The Civil Justice Association’s president, John Sullivan, said he didn’t know if the money would help the trial lawyers, but he said they will surely try to convince the candidates that it did. He said it’s also an indication that the trial lawyers are back to placing all their money on one horse. Quoting former state Sen. Tom Hayden, Sullivan said: “What it shows is that the trial lawyers are attempting to return to their position as anchor tenants of the Democratic Party.” SANTA CRUZ SHOWDOWN A race in laid-back Santa Cruz, Ca., proved to be a stress fest for a pair of candidates for district attorney. With only a few thousand absentee ballots to count, challenger Kathryn “Kate” Canlis on Wednesday took a 51 percent to 49 percent lead over incumbent Santa Cruz DA Ronald Ruiz. But Canlis refused to say she had won until all votes were counted. “I’m too modest to claim victory until I know for sure,” she said in a phone interview. Canlis and Ruiz, running in the first contested race for Santa Cruz DA in 20 years, staged a fierce and nasty campaign over eight months from the primary through the general election. Ruiz, a career criminal defense attorney, almost as a lark added his name to a list of those who sought to be appointed DA to succeed Arthur Danner, who had been appointed to the superior court. Canlis had been one of Danner’s top deputies and apparent heir, but she was passed over by county supervisors when they filled the job. In March, Canlis edged both Ruiz and former Santa Cruz District Attorney Peter Chang in the primary election. But she fell short of the majority needed to claim the post, forcing Tuesday’s runoff with Ruiz. PD POWER Two deputy public defenders were leading the tally in their respective districts for seats on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Matthew Gonzalez, who placed third in last year’s race for district attorney, placed first in District 5 with 44 percent of the vote in an 11-candidate field. Gonzalez will face Community College District board member Juanita Owens in the December runoff. In District 11, Gonzalez’s fellow PD Gerardo Sandoval outpolled Supervisor Amos Brown — though he didn’t reach the 50 percent needed to avoid a runoff. Gonzalez and Sandoval weren’t the only lawyers to do well Tuesday in S.F. balloting. Supervisor Michael Yaki and Eileen Hansen, former Aids Legal Referral Panel public policy director, made the runoffs in Districts 1 and 8 respectively, as did attorney John Shanley. At least five other candidates with J.D.s ran for supervisor. Among them, former Supervisor Carol Ruth Silver narrowly missed the run-off in District 6, and current Supervisor Alicia Becerril ran sixth in a field of eight candidates to represent District 3. ON THE SIDELINES Like the would-be president he supported, John Roos spent election night on the sidelines. The Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati partner who worked on former New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley’s bid for the Democratic nomination watched the election results on television Tuesday like any average Joe. Roos channel-surfed until about 3 a.m., enthralled by the battle of Florida. “It was one of the most fascinating nights in political history,” Roos said. “I went through emotional highs and lows till 3 a.m. as Gore won and then lost and then was back in the race.” He said he hasn’t yet spoken with longtime friend Bradley, but he certainly placed a call.

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