After her State of the County address Thursday night, Alameda County Supervisor Alice Lai-Bitker told The Citizen she will endorse Alameda City Councilwoman Lena Tam instead of her predecessor, Wilma Chan.
The endorsement could have huge ramifications within the large Asian community around Chinatown and represents a sizable sleight to the woman who named Lai-Bitker to replace her on the board in 2000. Lai-Bitker was an assistant to Chan.
Lai-Bitker says she believes Tam is the best candidate to continue her work in social services along with development projects in the southern portion of the district. In a interview with Lai-Bitker just after her announcement she would not seek re-election she told The Citizen finding someone to carry on her legacy was a high priority. (Read the Q&A with Lai-Bitker here.)
Along with Tam, another likely candidate, Alameda Mayor Beverly Johnson was also in attendence. Johnson said will make an official announcement regarding her candidacy in the coming weeks, but will likely throw her hat into the ring. There are also rumors Oakland Assemblyman Sandre Swanson will also enter the race.
Chan attended the speech Thursday night, but inexplicably left before the end of Lai-Bitker’s remarks and did not attend the reception afterwards. She could not be contacted on why she left early. According to sources, the news of Lai-Bitker’s intention to endorse Tam threw the testy Chan into an angry fit.
The former Alameda County supervisor and assemblywoman has made political miscalculations before. In 2004, she challenged the legality of the powerful Don Perata’s re-election bid and failed. Many also remember she contemplated a return to the Board of Supervisors in 2005 before focusing on an ill-fated senate campaign loss to Loni Hancock in 2008. The defeat put Chan into the political wilderness for two years until Lai-Bitker’s surprise announcement provided a possible lifeline back to power.
PHOTOS: Alameda Councilwoman Lena Tam and former Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan.
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