Dem-on-Dem 15th Assembly District Race Becomes Divisive After Intra-Party Mailer

This mailer sent by the Elizabeth Echols campaign using the chair of the Alameda County Central Committee’s name may be driving a wedge within the party.

ASSEMBLY | 15TH DISTRICT | This is exactly what Democratic Party activists feared with passage four years ago of a state constitutional amendment allowing open primaries. Ever since, in Alameda County, there have been many hard-fought Democratic intra-party General Election matchups, but the race this fall in the 15th Assembly District may be the first one that has gone negative.

Tony Thurmond, Elizabeth Echols

An Assembly candidates in the Berkeley-centered district—Elizabeth Echols—with help from Alameda County Democratic Central Committee Chair Robin Torello is slinging mud at her opponent, Tony Thurmond.

In a hit piece labeled as a “Warning from the Alameda County Democratic Party” sent last week sent by Echols’ campaign, Torello slammed Thurmond for being the beneficiary of $68,722, through Sept. 30, of a committee named Alliance for California’s Tomorrow, A California Business Coalition. “It’s an outrage that a political committee paid for by big oil, tobacco and predatory lenders is trying to buy this Assembly seat,” said the mailer signed by Torello. Alameda County Democrats have endorsed Echols for the seat.

State election laws prohibit expenditure groups from coordinating their efforts with the campaigns they support or those in opposition of an opponent. Last week, Thurmond disavowed the committee and called for campaign finance reform.

The back side of the mailer alerts voters of the committee supporting Thurmond and features its name and address with the heading, “Every time you see this name on mailers for Tony Thurmond, Be Aware:” followed by the admonition, “Don’t be fooled. Don’t let the corporate interests buy our district.”

Yet, the controversy went further Monday when the Oakland-based Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club, which endorsed Thurmond, sent a complaint to Torello in protest of the mailer. In the letter, the club says it is “deeply disturbed” the central committee’s leadership sent the negative mailer against one of their own. It also called for remediation of possible damages against Thurmond’s campaign.

“Most of all, we don’t like your authorizing a hit piece against a fellow Democrat, and we seriously question your ethical and organizational right to do that without any apparent consultation with the elected members of the [Alameda County Democratic Central Committee].”

Furthermore, the letter recognizes the party’s right to support their endorsed candidate, in this case, Echols, but “It is not appropriate to attack Tony Thurmond in the manner that you did, if you value long-term party unity and common decency of discourse.”

NOTE: A correction was made to this article to describe each side of the mailer as being part of the same mailing from the Echols campaign, not two.

10 thoughts on “Dem-on-Dem 15th Assembly District Race Becomes Divisive After Intra-Party Mailer

  1. The PAC that gave sent the pro-Tony mailer was funded by the same big business, anti-progressive donors – big oil, tobacco, charter schools, insurance companies. The fact that the nurses threw in is strange – and disappointing. These same donors and this same PAC worked against progressive candidates in 2012.


  2. Robin has a history of not supporting minority or male candidates no matter their credentials. Lots of progressives support for Tony no matter the purported funding source for the mailer. Tony has a history of service to the community. At best Elizabeth is an opportunist with no history of service funded by many outside interest.


  3. The PAC was funded by mostly ” Big Oil”. That does not fly or win in the 15th AD. Tony is the corporate shill. Elizabeth is the progressive savior. Good for Torello.


  4. 1. The Alameda County Democratic Party DID NOT discuss or approve this mailer. This is something Robin Torello, the chair, did on her own.

    2. The PAC that sent mail on Thurmond's behalf has a very broad base of supporters. It includes Democratic stalwarts such as nurses and labor. This piece gave a distorted view that was clearly meant to mislead and hit. Shame on the individual Democats who did this. It gives the Party a bad name.


  5. Thurmond would be an excellent representative for the district. Strange that party would not remain neutral.


  6. The Big Business group led by Big Oil just did another $450k for honest (ha,ha) Tony Thurmond. Their main thrust is to continue fracking. Torello did the right thing and exposed this B___S___.


  7. If you think Thurmond didn't know this Big Business group was going to do an I.E. for him, you are incredibly naive. Big oil is the kiss of death in this District and will ensure a win for Elizabeth Echols.


  8. The I.E.s are out of control. They often do candidates a disservice because the I.E.s are usually state based and do not know the districts they are mailing to. Candidates truly have no control over them. Perhaps they are deployed to destroy somone's credibility in the name of helping them. Shame on the Dems who don't understand this and unfairly attack honest people like Tony Thurmond.


  9. I'm sure Tony knew that this very conservative business group led by big oil would spend large amounts of money for him, but big business can't buy an election in the 15th. Elizabeth will win this race very easily, because the turnout is huge in Berkeley.


  10. just insane; I know Tony and have supported him in past races; he was a member of the Richmond city Council and is one of the most ethical individuals I have ever known. I don't understand Robin's motivation here but I don't agree in disparaging Tony Thurmond- Tony Santos


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s