BERKELEY -- Elizabeth Echols, of Oakland, took an early lead in voting for Assembly District 15 Tuesday night, ahead of her nearest challenger, Tony Thurmond, of Richmond.

Showing up close behind Thurmond in third place with very early returns from absentee ballots was attorney Pamela Price, of Oakland. The only Republican in the race, Rich Kinney, of San Pablo, showed up in fourth place.

The top two vote-getters in Tuesday's election for state Assembly District 15 will go on to the November election, leaving behind six others who put their names on the ballot.

The district, which stretches from Oakland to Hercules, has no incumbent because Democrat Nancy Skinner is termed out.

"We have a long way to go still," Echols said Tuesday evening shortly after the polls closed. "It's very early. We've stayed very focused on our game plan and worked hard on our message about creating more equal opportunity in education and jobs and protecting our environment. Those are the things we've really been talking about."

Thurmond was positive early in the night that his second place showing would hold and take him to the finale in November.

"I'm optimistic and grateful to the voters to have us in position to be in second place," he said. "This is a testament to the great grass-roots campaign we ran, powered by people who care about making positive changes in the community. If we get to the general election we'll continue to run a campaign powered by people and not by money."


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The field of candidates is diverse and includes Thurmond, a Democrat; Price, a Democrat; Clarence Hunt, a Democrat from Berkeley; Kinney; Sam Kang, a Democrat from Emeryville; Eugene Ruyle, a Peace and Freedom Party member from Oakland; Echols; and Bernt Wahl, an independent from Berkeley.

Thurmond is a former Richmond City Councilman and a former trustee on the West Contra Costa County school board.

Echols was the Small Business Administration director for the Western Region until April 2013.

Contact Doug Oakley at 925-234-1699. Follow him at Twitter.com/douglasoakley.