“Woo Hoo! I’m No. 2! Yeah, baby!”

Most people who lose an election by more than 40 percent get discouraged, but not Joscelyn Jones.

In a voice message, Jones said she was “ecstatic, grateful, humbled and elated” by her 24 percent showing in Tuesday’s Contra Costa County judicial election. Jones, a probate administration attorney, was so excited she rattled off her final vote count — 29,594.

Not bad for someone who threw in the towel two months ago, after Gov. Schwarzenegger appointed federal prosecutor John Laettner to finish retired Judge Merle Eaton’s term on the bench.

Laettner thanked Oakland attorney Robert “Rod” Divelbiss for not only dropping out after his appointment but endorsing the newly seated judge. Divelbiss, who claimed 6 percent of the vote, helped Laettner win a majority and avoid a run-off against Jones in November.

As for Jones’ surprisingly strong showing, Laettner noted that before dropping out she had been campaigning for three months — longer than the judge’s own campaign.

He offered few clues to explain how an inactive candidate fared so well at the polls.

“I’m told if your name is first on the ballot, you [automatically] get 10 to 15 percent,” Laettner said.

Matthew Hirsch

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