The Race For Second In The 20th Assembly Could Come Down To The Wire

June 4, 2012 | Hayward Councilman Bill Quirk should be advised to compose an early victory speech for the 20th Assembly District Tuesday night. His campaign, like Rob Bonta’s in the nearby 18th, has rolled somewhat effortlessly towards primary bliss. Quirk took the Democratic Party’s mantle and held it firmly during the campaign, but for some reason, spent liberally. His $168,000 in expenditures was easily the highest of the five candidates in the race, but was it spent wisely? We’ll see.

In actuality, if you include independent expenditures, nearly $400,000 was spent on behalf of Dr. Jennifer Ong. Quirk may have been trying to keep up with Ong, while hoping to widen his name-recognition in the district, however, the bulk of Ong’s spending also involved getting her name out–pot holders, potted plants–and her aim seemed not at Quirk, but gaining second place. If the rush to snag Ong second place is successful, it will initially put her in the best early position against Quirk and the likely onslaught of party and labor support that will come his way after Labor Day,.

Aside from the late and aggressive splash made by Ong, undoubtedly, this race will pivot on her performance, either way. Although, along with Ong, three candidates who feature immigrant stories reside in the race, it is her demographic that is the largest. Here are the district’s voting-age minority demographics:


It’s no wonder Union City Mayor Mark Green started looking for an appointment to the Alameda County Board of Supervisors in the middle of the campaign. The numbers, both electoral and financial, are two quick strikes against him. Even if Green dominates in Union City, its portion of the district’s pie is not big enough for the top two without an impossibly large number of independents, which he now labels himself. Green’s backyard also contains a small, but significant amount of Sikhs, which should be the bulk of New Haven school board member Sarabjit Cheema’s totals. The Republican in the race, Luis Reynoso, has the party’s endorsement and portrays himself as a conservative who could siphon some moderates to his side. In short, every new candidate to this race eats away at Green’s portion of the pie.

A poll surreptitiously put out by Quirk’s campaign showed him well in the lead with all other candidates bunched between 1-5 percentage points from second to fifth. That range could continue through Tuesday night. In fact, it would not be a surprise if the race to be Quirk’s opponent in November comes down to the wire between Ong, Green and, possibly, Reynoso.

A Quirk/Ong battle in election, could possibly give the East Bay a second intramural race between two Democrats, and as a practical matter, reveal very few contrasting issues. Basically, a choice between an older, experienced white man versus a younger Asian American woman with little political experience. A Quirk/Green race, from an aesthetic standpoint is a fascinating contrast in people and styles. Remember, Green said Quirk “was not exactly Mr. Charisma”? The best scenarios for Quirk would be a match-up with the Republican fire-breather Reynoso, where the sheer party breakdown would be devastating advantage or facing the far less experienced Cheema.