Judge Richard Ulmer just called the race with 98 percent of the precincts reporting. He's ahead of Michael Nava by five points.
Ulmer said, above all, he's feeling relieved."People who haven't been through this just don't know what it's like," Ulmer said. "It's day after day, especially when you're up against a [Democratic County Central Committee] endorsement."
Michael Nava, a research attorney for California Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno, campaigned on the platform of greater inclusion on the S.F. superior court bench. A gay Latino, Nava made a pitch for a more diverse bench.
Ulmer's campaign war chest swelled past $300,000 in his effort to defeat Nava, and all of the judges on the bench endorsed him -- many of them actively campaigning on his behalf. "My view is that the legal community really stepped up," Ulmer said. "Laywers and judges sent thousands of e-mails."
Ulmer said his campaign consultant did polling after the June primary, when Nava won more votes.
"It showed we'd win by five percent," Ulmer said, if he ocused on his main themes, including the unanimous support from the bench and his pro bono work suing the California Youth Authority to improve conditions for incarcerated kids (when he was a Latham & Watkins partner).
"Some people look down their noses as the support from all 51 judges on the court," Ulmer said. "They say it's just them circling the wagons. That's not the way the public thinks."
In an email late Tuesday night, Nava wrote: "Judge Ulmer won and I lost. That's what democracy is about. I extend my sincerest congratulations to him. I am deeply grateful for the many friends who supported me in this journey and for the lessons learned about myself, my friends and the judicial system."