|Democrat Bob Wieckowski and Republican Peter Kuo.|
MEET THE CANDIDATES After serving two terms in the State Assembly’s 25th District, Bob Wieckowski is looking to take the next step to the upper house of the Legislature. The 10th District’s latest boundaries followed redistricting that eliminated State Sen. Ellen Corbett’s seat following her being termed out this year. The district covers a lot of ground—from Castro Valley down to the San Jose—and the southern half of voters already know Wieckowski. During his time in Sacramento Wieckowski is seen as a major advocate for overturning the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling. The last 10 months have been a whirlwind for Republican Peter Kuo. The political neophyte nearly quit his campaign last December only to catch fire following a push by Assembly Democrats for SCA-5, a legislative gambit to overturn Prop. 209, the initiative passed by state voters to end affirmative action for state contracts and enrollment in state universities. The move was seen as tyrannical by many conservatives, and especially many Asian Americans. Kuo deftly seized upon their concern. During the primary, Kuo’s surge thwarted Mary Hayashi’s bid for finishing second and likely cleared the way for an easy Wieckowski win on Nov. 4 in this heavily-Democratic district.
WHAT’S THE BEEF Reversing Prop. 209 has been an issue, but it was somewhat quelled when Assembly Democrats stifled the bill’s momentum out of fear for having a candidate like Kuo manipulate it at the detriment of Democrats. Wieckowski has tried to distance himself from the decision-making process early in SCA-5, but Kuo isn’t buying it. In the few times the candidates have met in public, both have retreated to their partisan corners. Kuo routinely links Wieckowski to the Democratic status quo in Sacramento and criticizes their hand in high taxes, the lost of corporations out of the state and low rankings of California students. The line of attack is similar to other local statewide races containing a Democrat and a Republican this fall.
PAST RESULTS 2014 June Primary: 1. Bob Wieckowski (D) 36,773 (35.4%) 2. Peter Kuo (R) 27,332 (26.3%) 3. Mary Hayashi (D) 21,448 (20.6%) 4. Roman Reed (D) 14,098 (13.6%) 5. Audie Bock (NPP) 4,284 (4.1%).
CAMPAIGN FINANCE (Through Sept. 30): Wieckowski $105,809 cash on hand, $113,350 since; Kuo $45,538; $5,100 since.
OUTLOOK Kuo did Wieckowski a big favor last June by helping end the political career of Hayashi. Wieckowski still would have been a clear favorite to beat Hayashi this November, but with her left by the wayside, he will be able to enter the State Senate next month without the use of crutches and a few nasty cuts on his face. With Hayashi out of the picture, Wieckowski has done little fundraising and mounted merely a perfunctory fall campaign. But, with this easy victory comes worrisome questions way down the line for the Democratic Party. Kuo, despite the likely poor result, has gotten the attention of the statewide GOP. In a state party working hard to change its image as too old and too white, here comes Kuo, a Taiwanese American who may have found a way to entice Asian Americans into the GOP’s tent. Despite his accomplishments, Kuo is an extremely raw politician, but that’s also part of his charm. Like with Catharine Baker in the 16th Assembly District, the local GOP has found another diamond in the rough in Kuo.
PREDICTION 1. Wieckowski 2. Kuo.