ERIC SWALWELL His upset victory two years ago surprised many, but Swalwell’s longevity was in some question as State Sen. Ellen Corbett stood in his way for a second term in Congress. Without Corbett in the general, there is now no doubt Swalwell has a lock on the 15th Congressional District for as long as wishes. In addition, a challenger the likes of Corbett won’t be coming to face Swalwell anytime soon in the next decade. You can almost envision the list of palookas setting themselves to lose by 50 points in 2016, 2018 and beyond. Now, if he will only cease with the political gimmicks and attract some gravitas, we will all be better off even if his moderate ideology will always be troublesome to progressive just like it was for his mentor, Ellen Tauscher.
MIKE HONDA He did what he needed to do last week: not mimic the close contest and Election day storyline that propelled Pete Stark’s young challenger to victory in November. Honda’s 21-point romp over Ro Khanna effectively quelled any momentum from his fellow Democratic opponent. That’s impressive in itself since the local media was doing their best to hand Khanna the seat just like they did with Swalwell in 2012. Honda limited his unforced errors and failed to give voters on the fence or new ones the impetus to rethink their support for the incumbent. However, he’s not out of the woods, by no means. Khanna can still pulls this out, but he spent nearly $3 million while the June primary results amounts to Honda holding serve. Will Khanna’s impressive fundraising continue? It’s hard to say. Contributors want to back winners and they may not be so sure that their money won’t be wasted on the candidate who could again finish second in November.
HUGH BUSSELL What can you say about Bussell? He had no expectation, whatsoever, of finishing the top two to Swalwell and above Corbett. None! Yet a perfect storm of the incumbent’s rising popularity and an electorate who sat out the primary, will almost assuredly bring him a rematch in November with his Tri Valley neighbor, Swalwell. It’s hard to go against the guy who just benefited from a major local miracle, but Bussell has no chance in November. However, I have found him to be wonderfully self-effacing and someone with a wicked sense of humor. He’s skewered and mocked Swalwell a few times during forums and it should be entertaining to watch him burst Swalwell’s bubble a few times.
HEALTH CARE IN ALAMEDA COUNTY Voters passed the all-important Measure AA that reauthorizes a half-cent sales tax through 2033 passed with a 75 percent clip last week. There was really no reason why the measure should have not passed even for anti-tax advocates. Since it was passed in 2004, the former Measure A helped prop up the local health care system in Alameda County during the depths of the Great Recession and is positioning Alameda Health Systems as a credible player in the region along with other mega non-profits like Kaiser Permanente and Sutter Health. This measure desperately needed to be approved and voters came through for the struggling and poor among us.
SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPS The profligate spending by special interests in the 16th Assembly District was truly sickening. Nearly $4 million was spent by independent expenditure committee for and against Tim Sbranti and Steve Glazer. It may seem like this should be a loss since neither took the top spot. Republican Catharine Baker did, but if California’s Jungle Primary continues to drive away voters rather than attract them, all this money poured into campaigns will be greatly amplified. Lost in all the news about spending in the 16th District is Sbranti, the second place finisher, struggled to build up his own fundraising apparatus. He won a slot in the November election on the backs of Big Labor’s money and great antipathy toward Glazer’s anti-BART union stance. Baker can make a strong argument that Sbranti is bought and paid for by the unions. In Hayward, Sara Lamnin finally grabbed a seat on the Hayward City Council. Similarly, it was the Service Employees International Union Local 1021 that pushed her over the finish line after the city took the drastic step of imposing a five percent wage cuts on city workers. Sometimes this works out, sometimes it doesn’t, but if you don’t vote, these groups will be emboldened to think they can merely buy every race up and down the ballot.
MARVIN PEIXOTO Hayward Councilmember Marvin Peixoto is one of the few Portuguese American public officials left in the East Bay and his re-election literally came cheap. As someone of Portuguese descent, I’m allowed to perpetuate the stereotype of frugality among my people. Despite raising the ire of SEIU earlier this year, Peixoto escaped their cries to unseat him at any cost. He spent somewhere around 50 cents per vote to accomplish it. Among all candidates on the Hayward ballot last week, Peixoto was last in fundraising, yet he easily took one of top open seats on the council. In addition, Peixoto was the top vote-getter in Hayward’s at-large council race just like in 2010, although he is narrowly leading Sara Lamnin for the honor.