Primary Questions: SD-10 Preview

Clockwise from left: Assemblymember Bob Wieckowski, Mary Hayashi, Audie Bock, Peter Kuo and Roman Reed.

THE CANDIDATES We all know about Mary Hayashi’s past, but what is missing from this campaign is just how progressive a record she had in the Assembly. During her six years in the lower house, Hayashi was a strong advocate for mental health issues and health care, in general. She did, however, have a reputation for not playing well with others in the Legislature. The residual animosity is one reason why many in government at all levels in East Bay have found it hard to forgive her. But, money talks and her $800,000 war chest to start the campaign is a major hammer, which she has plowed through in recent months. Hayashi’s last campaign finance report two weeks ago showed her with $176,000 in the bank…Assemblymember Bob Wieckowski has burnished an image as an elected official who is quite friendly to labor unions. Nothing wrong with that, but Wieckowski is also a former bankruptcy attorney and his support from trial lawyers got him in trouble during this race after he registered the only vote for an heartbreaking domestic violence bill that ultimately became law in 2012. Wieckowski has also led the way in urging Congress to overturn Citizens United, which U.S. Supreme Court ruled corporations have the same rights as people and the recent decision removing federal limits for campaign donations. Wieckowski made news last year with a bill that would have allowed undocumented immigrants to serve on juries that Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed…Never heard of Peter Kuo? After Tuesday you might hear a lot about him. The lone Republican in the race nearly quit late last year, but a State Senate bill looking to reinstate affirmative action for university applications and state contracts lit a fire in him and an upset the growing Asian American community in the 10th District and beyond. He emigrated from Taiwan as a teenager and the issue of SCA-5 dovetails nicely with his description of the American Dream. Republican Party leaders see potential for Kuo and the district’s large chunk of non-partisan voters…The third Democrat in this race is Roman Reed, a former Chabot College football player who was paralyzed during a game almost 20 years ago. Reed, now a Fremont Planning Commissioner, went on to graduate from Cal and has worked to fund various stem cell research programs around the country, including his own, the Roman Reed Foundation…In a 1999 special election, Audie Bock pulled off one of the biggest shockers in recent East Bay history when she won a seat in State Assembly as a member of the Green Party. Today she is an independent. In recent years, she has run for various seats in the Hayward area and is currently an elected member of the Fairview Fire Protection District. During this race, Bock has been highly-critical of the Russell City Energy Center on the Hayward Shoreline after the power plant was found to be emitting water particulate 10 times higher than allowed.

MAIN BEEF Mug Shot Mary vs Bob the Bully. Sort of sounds like a character-driven public service announcement against bad behavior, doesn’t it? This race never got past Hayashi’s 2011 arrest for shoplifting and it only got worse when her campaign fired back. The campaign never came close to a discussion of the issues and that’s a shame since outside of the Fremont portion of the 10th District, much of this area is smarting from ineffective local government and challenged school districts.

QUOTABLE Bob Wieckowski says he’s a supporter of consumer rights, said Hayashi’s campaign consultant Josh Pulliam, in response to the surveillance video from 2011 of Hayashi at Neiman Marcus. “Instead, he is clearly getting his jollies with this video peeping on Mary Hayashi.”

BY THE NUMBERS Voter Registration: Democratic 50.3%; No Party Preference 24.9%; Republican 16.9%.

Campaign Finance: Hayashi $176,062; Wieckowski $70,881; Kuo $50,356; Reed, no report filed; Bock, no report filed.

PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH 1. Wieckowski 2. Kuo 3. Hayashi 4. Reed 5. Bock.

ON TO NOVEMBER If Wieckowski can avoid another costly round against Hayashi in November, he will likely walk into the State Senate. Barring a Starkian meltdown of epic proportions it is extremely difficult to envision this district electing a Republican. However, if Kuo, an uber nice guy can contrast himself with Wieckowski in the line of Hayashi’s “Bob the Bully” moniker, he could force Wieckowski to play ball all the way to the finish line. Another question: can the cash-strapped state GOP afford to fund two East Bay upstarts in Kuo and the 16th Assembly District’s Catharine Baker? If they had to choose one or the others, the best bet for winning rests with Baker. However, if Hayashi can live another day, things could get interesting. Does Wieckowski continue to trot out the infamous mug shot and Neiman Marcus surveillance video or change course? Good money says he continues to go negative since his record in the Assembly is without distinction. If I’m Hayashi, I do what I should have done six months ago and bare my soul on television like Nadia Lockyer. Barbara Walters retired, but someone at KGO-TV will do the trick and by all means, cry!