Sher tops Shannon in 11th District

Half Moon Bay Review, Nov. 6, 1996

By Marc DesJardins

State Sen. Byron Sher, elected to his 11th District post in a special election in March, wrapped up the seat for four more years Tuesday night in a victory over Republican challenger Patrick Shannon.

Sher, D-Palo Alto, and Shannon are old foes. The two men faced off eight months ago in a fight to serve out the term of former state Sen. Tom Campbell, now a U.S. congressman.

In that race, Sher bested Shannon 93,737 votes to 75,612. Tuesday night, the results weren't much different. At press time, with 71.4 percent of the precincts reporting, Sher had 108,746 votes to Shannon's 69,217.

What was different, however, was the tone of the fall campaign. While the race this spring featured charges and counter-charges between the 68-year-old Democrat and his 31-year-old opponent, this fall's political season was much more subdued.

"This race was run under unusual circumstances," Sher said. "We both knew who we were running against. March was the important one. That was the intense race; it was the focus of both parties. All of that went away after the election. The dynamics changed. As the incumbent, I had an advantage."

Shannon, who served as Gov. Wilson's Bay Area policy director, agreed, calling the fall campaign a "debate of ideas."

Shannon said he felt his defeat was due in part to voter apathy. He cited poor voter turnout in the state.

Despite only eight months in office, Sher said he considered his short Senate term a successful one. He cited his work crafting legislation lowering the number of students in first- and second-grade classes statewide. Sher said that in his upcoming term, he would like to see legislation passed funding the smaller classes for more than a year. "This shouldn't be a one-year deal."

Shannon, meanwhile, said he plans to continue in his role as a political activist. He stressed the need to clean up campaign financing.

The 11th District includes Half Moon Bay and El Granada, as well as the South Coast.

Half Moon Bay Review