In A Race Once Tailor Made For Young, Bonta And Guillen Prepare For Victory

June 4, 2012 | From the start, the race for the 18th Assembly District was all about demographics and which candidate would have taken the largest voting bloc–African Americans–and ride that group to the Legislature. Go back to February 2011 and that person was undeniably Joel Young. The following month, though, was the first of many wholly self-inflicted wounds to his once-promising campaign. The shocking domestic violence allegation in March 2011 marked Young, but his personal errors, as we would see on many occasions later, radiated from his bedroom to the public realm (allegedly spitting at Oakland council aide in a bar) to the professional (double-crossing the hand that would have fed him during the campaign season with the loss of the SEIU endorsement). Things just got worse and worse for Young and nobody is to blame but himself. A look at AD18’s voting-age demographics should have been an oracle to how the June primary should have finished up:


Also, being an Oakland transplant was also a beneficial factor across the board for Young, and for a lesser case, his opponent Abel Guillen, a Latino. Of course, for all the pratfalls Young forced upon himself, both Guillen and Alameda Vice Mayor Rob Bonta stood their grounds and may have ultimately, surpassed Young when the votes are counted Tuesday night. All done without getting their hands soiled by trashing Young. A special interest group called, California Alliance, backed by consumer attorneys and conservationists, greatly helped on that front. The group’s $109,000 in independent expenditures over the past month put an exclamation point on all of Young’s transgressions with a series of pointed mailers.

Bonta, Guillen, Young

In the meantime, Bonta has run a solid, if not unspectacular, that is giving observers a sense of quiet momentum that could last well into the end of the year. However, if there is a race in the new top two primary system that could flip the primary winner to second place in November, some consultants believe it could be this one. The power of Oakland, even with a mass exodus of people over the past decade, according to the U.S. Census, could still stoke interest in handing over the seat to an Oaklander like Guillen. If Bonta should prevail Tuesday, the efficacy of his fall campaign may lie in his numbers coming from Oakland. It also would not surprise many if Bonta takes both Alameda and San Leandro on Tuesday, in fact, it’s almost a must for him to do well in those areas to win in November.

One problem, shown constantly in this campaign, in a very blue race populated by very blue candidates is that they is no room for the candidates to make a distinction between each other with three people, let alone two in November (i.e. boring debates). Here’s how the district voted in the last presidential and gubernatorial races:

2008 Presidential

2010 Governor

Most people call it for Bonta at around 40 percent, Guillen in the very low 30s and Young in the high 20s. That sounds about right. However, November may almost seem like an entirely new campaign in substance. If it’s, indeed, Bonta and Guillen, you should expect more questions arising from Alameda’s vocal, sometimes kooky contingent of anti-labor folks who insist Bonta is on the take for the Alameda Fire Department. And, for Guillen, expect thorny and persistent questions over his service on the Peralta Community College board while certain officials were raiding the agency for personal gain. And, if Young were to finish in the top two, you can be sure the depth of his bench for bad behavior runs very deep.