CHAPTER 10 | Last Friday, Hayward Assemblymember Bill Quirk became one of the first local elected officials to acknowledge the looming purpling of the East Bay and possibly the entire state. “We are getting more and more so-called New Democrats, moderate Democrats and it’s getting very difficult now to get some very good legislation passed,” Quirk told Democrats at a forum Mar. 28.
What’s to blame for rise of moderate Democrats, according to Quirk, who was elected in 2012? The top-two primary system, also called the “jungle primary,” where candidates compete for two spots on the November ballot, regardless of party affiliation. In the all-blue East Bay, this almost always produces two Democrats. This year, in its second use, there are indications the top-two primary has the potential to again harm progressive candidates. Moderates like Eric Swalwell and Ro Khanna theoretically become the de facto “only choice” for conservatives. Swalwell is banking on attracting this demographic this year, as is Khanna, however, in most cases, without announcing to Democrats they are actually playing footsie with the other side.
Part of the team, although, it’s not clear
if Bob Wieckowski, left, is still part
of Team Purple.
Quirk described his experience in the Assembly when this group of masked Democrats makes their way to Sacramento. Progressive bills like those to regulate ammunition in the magazines of semi-automatic weapons gets mothballed, multi-national super corporations like Chevron in Richmond avoid negligence with paltry fines, and environmental protections are stripped down to nothing.
While some residents of the East Bay describe their region as proudly liberal, many are taking their eyes off the road. There is an unmistakable moderate and conservative strain slowly creeping into Alameda County while Democrats continue to pat themselves on the back and it’s coming from Fremont via Silicon Valley and from the Tri Valley in the east. The characters behind this mini-revolution includes names like former Assemblymember Alberto Torrico, Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty ( a former GOPer), Fremont Mayor Bill Harrison (a contributor to Sen. John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign), Dublin Mayor Tim Sbranti, San Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy and the entire Hayward City Council, just to name a few. Of course, the poster boy for this infiltration is Swalwell.
Swalwell, right, reaching across the line of
scrimmage with a GOP House member.
Quirk’s characterization of New Democrats hindering progressive legislation applies to Swalwell as well, who depending on which audience he speaking to, openly seeks to work with House Republicans. He said that, but doesn’t say it when he’s in Hayward. If moderates in the Legislature torpedo gun control, water down fracking rules, what does a moderate like Swalwell do in Congress? Similarly, Swalwell voted to deny $1.3 million Americans of unemployment benefits around the time Santa was preparing to shower gifts on their children. Add that to coddling Chevron, keeping the chamber of your gun full and having the potential to light your water on fire, that’s what a Democrat working across the aisle really means in Sacramento and Washington today.
AMATEUR HOUR IN CA-17 It’s becoming increasingly clear there was some big time shady politics going on in the 17th Congressional District. Was Ro Khanna’s campaign involved in recruiting Republicans to run in an effort to diminish Republican opponent Vanila Singh? There’s no clear link to Khanna other than strong circumstantial evidence. However, someone in Fremont’s Indian American community clearly wants Khanna to succeed and apparently was willing to go to great lengths to make it happen, even if it threatens a local temple’s non-profit tax exemption. A report in India West asserts a religious institution sought nominating signatures on its grounds and used its email to promote Khanna’s campaign. Those are clear violations. Add this to the odd addition of Vinesh Rathore to the ballot a day after becoming a Republican and his disqualification last week. It only took a single successful challenge to one of the minimum 40 signatures to kick Rathore off the ballot. Khanna appears to have had some cursory contact with all of these mysterious characters, but left to their own accord, their zeal to help Khanna took an amateurish turn and potentially leaves a black mark on his otherwise excellent challenge to Rep. Mike Honda.
WHISPER CAMPAIGN Conservative conspiracy theorists are spinning a creative yarn linking embattled State Sen. Leland Yee to East Bay Assemblymember Rob Bonta. It goes like this: Yee, who was often described as a fervent anti-gun crusader was also a hypocrite, according to a F.B.I. indictment alleging Yee, in part, attempted to facilitate arms trading with a group in the Philippines. Similarly, goes the theory, Bonta, who is up for re-election this year in the 18th Assembly District, also supported numerous gun control bills last year in the Legislature. Bonta is also Filipino. You get where they are going with this? This week, David Erlich, a San Leandro electrician, who is running as a Republican against Bonta, released a statement this week, criticizing the accusation, at the same time promoting its existence. “I denounce any allegations made about Rob Bonta based strictly on his Filipino background,” Erlich said. “I have been hearing whispering, but to talk publicly about speculation is only a distraction from the real issues. But if there is any evidence that ties him or anybody else to any of the corruption that is being, and going to be exposed in Sacramento, then it should be investigated. Rob Bonta has nothing to worry about if he is not involved.”
If the Russell City power plant allegations
surfaced last year, would Jennifer Ong
had pursued a rematch with Bill Quirk?
HERE AND THERE Some Hayward candidates may have been a little nervous at Wednesday’s forum. Council candidate Sara Lamnin inadvertently said one of her priorities was to “increase unemployment.” This was an honest mistake, but mayoral candidate Barbara Halliday said for city governments “the recession was a good thing, in some cases.” However, those who lost their jobs might not feel the same…Hayward Councilmember Marvin Peixoto, up for re-election, continues to jab labor unions, despite once being a member of their leadership. He called SEIU Local 1021 “a special interests group.”…Timing is everything in politics. If the current Calpine Russell City Energy Center controversy occurred this time last year, Quirk’s 2012 opponent Jennifer Ong might have had no choice but pursue a rematch. She only lost by 900 votes, while trying to link Quirk to the unpopular power plant….State controller candidate and Alameda’s own Betty Yee told the Sacramento Bee, “I’m a different Yee.”…On the heels of next week’s big 10th State Senate District forum in Fremont, there is questions over how good a debater is Assemblymember Bob Wieckowski. Four years ago, the veteran elected official was outwitted and overshadowed by a considerably less experienced candidate in Adnan Shahab. Wieckowski was an overwhelming favorite to win the election and did, but how will he react to a likely onslaught from Mary Hayashi?
|Oakland mayoral forum Thursday night.|
ONE MORE THING Too many candidates in the East Bay lack the eye of the tiger when they run. Generally, candidates misinterpret advice urging them to stay positive. But that doesn’t preclude criticizing your opponent, especially when that person is the incumbent. During a mayoral debate in Oakland this week, the nine candidates present were given the opportunity to ask any of their opponents one question, although the moderator urged them to mix it up, so as not to have all the questions posed to Mayor Jean Quan. But, c’mon, candidates don’t have to follow these rules while in the trenches. Nevertheless, a few confronted Quan, but all of them should have gone for the knockout punch. With television cameras and numerous newspaper outlets in the audience, this was their big chance. Over in Hayward this week, candidates for mayor and the city council failed even more spectacularly. When the moderator gave each person a chance to rebut another’s statement, all 11 candidates turned down the offer. If I’m running a campaign and see that, I have to ask the candidate, “Do you really want to win, or what?”