After Pollster’s Alleged Calls, Bonta Asks Guillen To Pledge For A Clean Campaign

PHOTO/Shane Bond

ELECTION ’12//ASSEMBLY 18 | An alleged telephone poll says Rob Bonta wants to end public schools in the state. During a candidates forum in Oakland Thursday night, it became the impetus for the Alameda vice mayor to ask his opponent, Abel Guillen, for a pledge against running a negative camapign from here to November.

“If Mr. Guillen would join me,” Bonta said during his opening statement, “to pledge to run a positive campaign on the issues and to not attack my opponent’s character or take his public record out of context. I think we should encourage our outside supporters to do the same and I would like to know if Mr Guillen would take that pledge.” Guillen simply replied, “Sure.”

Afterwards, Bonta admitted the impetus for the pledge stemmed from listening to a recording of an unidentified pollster gauging the prospective voters reaction to Bonta allegedly advocating for the end of public education. “I heard the poll,” said Bonta. “The whole thing was taking my record out of context. To say something like that is insane. I’m not naïve to think that doesn’t happen in politics, but it only has to happen if we choose for it to happen.”

Bonta added he also wanted the race, pitting two Democrats in the general election, to become a model for how such campaigns could be run in the future and without ripping apart the party’s faithful.

“We’ve all seen what’s happened in the past few weeks. It hasn’t always been positive,” Bonta said. “I think that’s indisputable, so I just wanted to extend an olive branch and say, let’s do this positively.”

Pat Dennis, a consultant for Guillen, said he is not aware of any polling commissioned by the campaign asking such questions and posits they may be the work of independent expenditure groups. Dennis also denies the tenor of the campaign, thus far, has been negative. “We’ve been positive,” he said. “Having a discussion about people’s record and what they stand for and who is funding campaigns is an issue.”

Last month, Guillen filed a complaint with the California Fair Political Practices Commission alleging Bonta failed to disclose campaign finance reports to the state for his 2010 run for the Alameda City Council. Bonta filed them with the city, but not electronically to the secretary of state’s office. Bonta said Thursday he received a letter last week from the FPPC essentially stating, no harm, no foul.