Two Candidates In 18th Assembly District Rush To Bolster Their Bases

Feb. 16, 2012 | If you’re looking for a good seat at the Assembly commissary next year, it’s becoming increasingly smart for candidates to cozy up with current members who share a similar ethnic background.

The role of identity politics in the race for the Assembly 18th District is becoming a competition in who can amass the biggest collection of lawmakers to bolster your own slice of the demographic pie.

Peralta Community College Trustee Abel Guillen this week unveiled a group of five members of the Assembly’s Latino Caucus offering support to his primary run this June 5.

Assemblymembers Luis Alejo, Susan Bonilla, Nora Campos, Ricardo Lara and Henry Perea all tossed their support to Guillen’s campaign. Although, aside from Bonilla in Concord and Campos in San Jose, the others hail from Southern California. “I am honored to have their support, and look forward to working with them in the Legislature to find solutions to the challenges our state faces,” Guillen said Wednesday.

Latinos legislators in Sacramento are not the only racial group looking to expand their own caucus. Alameda Vice Mayor has led the way in winning the support of Asian American assemblymembers. Bonta, who is Filipino American, has racked up the endorsements of Assembly Speaker Fiona Ma, Assemblymembers Paul Fong, Mariko Yamada, and Warren Furutani. Assemblyman Mike Eng, along with his wife, Rep. Judy Chu, also endorsed Bonta, as did State Sen. Ted Lieu.

Like Guillen, Bonta’s support from legislators representing minorities groups also has a distinct SoCal flavor. Only Ma from San Francisco and Fong from the South Bay reside in the Bay Area.

The lack of any sort of name-recognition in the East Bay for these endorsers likely downgrades their potentcy to do anything but strengthen already certain bases of support. In a race featuring three minority candidates, ironically, it will still be the historical white majority who will likely decide this race come November.