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Michael Wilson came unexpectedly close to upsetting Michael Allen in the Democratic primary in the 7th Assembly District, and it looks like the tight race may have caught the attention of the Republicans.

A fingers-in-the-cookie-jar mailer arrived over the weekend blasting Allen for the Sonoma County Water Agency contract that prompted a conflict-of-interest complaint to the Fair Political Practices Commission. You can see it in the campaign mailer gallery maintained by Jake Bayless.

The mailer didn’t come from Wilson, who didn’t go negative. It came from a group called Citizens for California Reform.

Who’s that?

The address tracks back to the Sacramento law office of Charles Bell, a political specialist who represents GOP candidates. Campaign finance records identify the group’s principal as Amy Lyons of Los Angeles and its treasurer as Gabriella Holt of Long Beach. Holt was a GOP Assembly candidate in 2008. Her list of endorsements includes Lyons, and both are involved in an initiative campaign to convert the state Legislature from a full-time to a part-time body.

Is Wilson a closet Republican? No. But Allen is a close ally of the Democratic Party regulars who control the state Senate (where he’s a staffer) and the Assembly (where he’s all but assured of becoming a member in December). It looks like the Republicans wanted to knock him off in the primary.

Wilson was targeted in a pair of mailers paid for by the North Bay Labor Council, which endorsed Allen. Both mailers focused on campaign money he received from Chevron and his support for a Chevron-backed project in  Vallejo.

In case anyone’s wondering, if the Proposition 14 top-two primary had been in effect on Tuesday, this contest would not have resulted in a November run-off between Allen and Wilson. With Lee Pierce taking about 20 percent of the Democratic vote, Allen finished with votes than Republican Doris Gentry of Napa, who ran unopposed in the Republican primary. Overall, however, there were about 32,000 votes cast in the Democratic primary and 15,000 on the GOP side.

– Jim Sweeney

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