Lock and Liz Begin First Day of Runoff Campaigns

Both sides spin Tuesday’s results, look toward grueling race By Steven Tavares
Barring a last minute upset, Nadia Lockyer is set to face Liz Figueroa for a seat on the Alameda County Board of Supervisors, in one of the area’s most highly-anticipated matchup this November.

Tuesday’s results are unofficial, but former state Sen. Liz Figueroa leads surprisingly strong finisher Union City Mayor Mark Green by a few hundred votes for second place. Lockyer garnered 38 percent for first place.

“We’re thrilled to finish first,” said Katie Merrill, a spokesperson for the Lockyer campaign. Hayward Councilman Kevin Dowling, who finished a disappointing fourth, congratulated both Lockyer and Figueroa, but, as they say, the day after the primary is just the first day of what may be a very rough general election.

Both campaigns attempted to spin Tuesday’s results. “Seventy-six percent of voters said they wanted someone other than Liz,” said Merrill. Figueroa countered saying, “Sixty-two percent of voters said they wanted an experienced candidate.”
The possibility of intense media coverage focusing on the more gossipy elements of the matchup may crowd out coverage of the issues facing Alameda County voters, both camp say. Headlines in the Los Angeles Times and Sacramento Bee reported the connection between state Treasurer Bill Lockyer, his wife, Nadia, and Liz Figueroa with The Bee blaring on its widely-read political blog, “Lockyer’s wife, ex-girlfriend headed to runoff.”

“I would hope the mainstream media will focus on issues of importance when voters are trying to make ends meet and looking for jobs,” said Merrill. Figueroa says voters want to talk about jobs, the budget and issues like saving CalWorks. “They all deserve our attention,” she says.

Figueroa faces an uphill battle to erase Lockyer’s electoral and fund-raising advantage in the next five months. She announced receiving the endorsement of her two former opponents, Green and Dowling and says a slew of fundraisers are already planned for the coming months. Nevertheless, Lockyer’s war chest could reach over $1 million with much of it coming from the campaign for treasurer of her husband, Bill, but Figueroa says the money is just obfuscating the issues facing the district.

“They are buying all these signs and sending all these mailers to take the focus away from the issues,” said Figueroa. “When push comes to shove, spending over $600,000, didn’t get them much.”

The big surprise of the night was the late surge of Green, who had invested little money into his campaign, but made up for the deficit with old-fashioned door-to-door retail politics. Dowling praised Green’s efforts, while noting his long tenure as mayor of Union City gave him a built-in advantage in name I.D. around his city and Fremont.

With the election of Wilma Chan to the Board of Supervisors replacing Alice Lai-Bitker, the two-woman runoff between Lockyer and Figueroa hoping to take the seat of retiring Supervisor Gail Steele, assures the current gender make-up of the board (three men, two women) remains the same.