Steve Glazer and Susan Bonilla are the big winners in last night’s Senate District 7 special election.  The two top vote getters will square off in a May runoff to join the Senate just in time for budget deliberations.

But who were the winners and losers among the groups that collectively spent north of $3.4 million?

Those with Glazer – Just shy of 10 months ago, an alliance of the business community, led by the California Chamber of Commerce’s Jobs Pac, and education reform groups suffered a bitterly disappointing defeat when Glazer fell short in his bid to proceed to the November runoff for the 16th Assembly District.

Now that same general coalition joined forces with LA businessman Bill Bloomfield to successfully push Glazer to the top of the election results.  Bloomfield; who was also the key component in funding the effort that elected Sen. Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica) over Sandra Fluke, last year; spent at least $600k on Glazer, largely providing balance to the massive labor funded campaign against the former Jerry Brown advisor. 

Jobs Pac (disclosure, a long time client) stands tall with this win and is likely to find other large industry groups who sat out yesterday’s election will now come on board for the run-off.

Those with Bonilla – Over a million dollars was spent for Assembly member Bonilla.  The California Dental Association and California Medical Association were in for just over $330k and  $80k respectively.  In some respects, a cynical analysis might suggest they “lose” by “winning” since they’re now on the hook for funding a Bonilla run off.  Both groups are widely believed to have been supporting Bonilla because of her position as chair of the Assembly Business and Professions Committee.

The California Professional Firefighters poured in over $150k on Bonilla’s behalf and are also big winners today.

Give Bonilla credit.  Late polling by multiple groups had her trailing former Assembly member Joan Buchanan for second place.  She ran very strong in Contra Costa County.

Those with Buchanan – Having term limited out of the Assembly last year, Buchanan found herself in the difficult position of trying to finance a campaign without being a sitting legislator.  However, two long-term allies spent substantially on her behalf.

The California Teacher’s Association (CTA) and the California Building Industry Association (CBIA) both loyally stood with Buchanan.  With polling showing Buchanan as the strongest candidate in a run off against Glazer, CTA endorsed the former Education Committee Chair and spent late on her behalf in the closing days of the campaign.

CBIA (disclosure, also a client) pounded mailboxes for weeks with pro-Buchanan mail, showing a strong commitment to a friend who supported a statewide school bond last year.

But the CTA and CBIA efforts weren’t enough to overcome the “juice” being pounded out of Sacramento by Bonilla’s “juice committee” gavel.

The race’s results validate the heavy spending by Bonilla allies as early polling showed Buchanan in a strong position given her long time service in the Assembly as an often moderate Democrat who reflected her East Bay district well.

Glazer’s now infamous maverick stance against labor always put him in a position to coalesce Republican voters as long as they were aware that the Republican candidate, Michaela Hertle, had withdrawn and endorsed Glazer. The independent effort in support of Glazer did that very effectively, and a sloppy effort by unions to fund positive direct mail for Hertle to GOP households backfired as the media pounced on the effort as a Nixonian dirty trick.

Glazer also performed well with a good segment of Democrat voters.  His total plus Hertle’s suggest he’s a slight favorite in May.

The May runoff should prove to be a proxy battle comparable to last year’s June Assembly primary that featured Glazer.  CTA will now likely commit heavily to Bonilla and the alliance behind Glazer will now probably find additional allies from the business community who sat out round one.  Certainly the dentists and doctors will spend again for Bonilla, but look for labor to bear most of the load.

Unlike last June, with no Republican to vote for, a large majority of GOP voters will be in Glazer’s corner in this D vs D run off.  Watch for spending to match the first round.

There is a lot at stake here for labor.  Although they beat Glazer last year, they ultimately lost the war when Republican Catherine Baker beat labor’s candidate, Tim Sbranti, in AD 16.  Hearing Glazer’s name in a Senate roll call in two months would deal another mighty blow to labor’s clout in the Democratic caucus.