Nancy Skinner

STATE SENATE | DISTRICT 9 | All things considered, Nancy Skinner should be feeling good about her chances next year in the East Bay’s Ninth State Senate District. She has a considerable money advantage over fellow Democrat Sandre Swanson and some buzz beginning to build around her candidacy, at least among East Bay politicos outside her Berkeley stronghold, in Oakland and San Leandro.

But there are also some concerns. At least one poll earlier this fall showed Skinner leading Swanson and Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan, but support was somewhat soft. And, now, with Chan out of the race, it leaves Swanson with an opportunity.

Last week, Skinner’s campaign finally showed a concerted effort to begin using social media outlets such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. In each announcement came a declaration that Skinner is the progressive choice in the race, a challenge to Swanson, also a reliable progressive, and the vacuum left by Chan’s exit.

Katherine Welch

However, Skinner may be worried about another candidate in the race scrambling the equation for this highly-anticipated East Bay primary–Piedmont education advocate Katherine Welch. And Skinner has been open about this concern, according to sources. The potential problems stems from uncertainty whether Welch, the daughter of former General Electric chairman and corporate icon Jack Welch, is able to self-fund her campaign.

Welch will likely run a one-issue campaign focused on education reform and could be able to tap into funding from statewide sources, said some East Bay politicos. It’s the same groups that bankrolled Marshall Tuck’s unsuccessful run last year for the state superintendent of schools.

Welch is going to need all the campaign resources she can get. After recently changing her party affiliation from Republican to Democrat, Welch is going to have an uphill battle convincing voters in possibly the most progressive region in the country that she wholeheartedly possesses the same values.