Outgoing Speaker recruited Democrat to face Baker in Sixteenth Assembly District

Democrat Cheryl Cook-Kallio filed Nov. 17 for
next year’s Sixteenth Assembly District primary. 

ASSEMBLY | DISTRICT 16 | If outgoing Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins was a college football coach her recruiting trip to the Sixteenth Assembly District could be graded as fairly successful.

Suffice to say there are no blue chip recruits in the district straddling Contra Costa and Alameda Counties currently held by Republican Catharine Baker.

Democrats in both counties have been scouring the district for a suitable challenge to Baker, who last year became the first East Bay Republican elected to the Legislature in six years.

Enter Cheryl Cook-Kallio, a recently termed out Pleasanton councilmember, to fill the void. Cook-Kallio officially formed a campaign committee Nov. 17 and, according to one powerful union, Atkins was the agent leading to her recruitment.

In a region where Big Labor has faced a pair of expensive and stinging loses leading to Baker and Steve Glazer’s rise, it’s no surprise unions are searching for payback. And Atkins and the Democratic leadership in Sacramento view the Sixteenth District as high priority for its potential to be flipped in 2016.

But most concede it will be difficult after the Republican leadership appeared to have let Baker vote with a moderate touch during her first year in the Assembly. A strategy which positions Baker in line with the moderate, liberal-skewing district.

Baker’s rise followed her vanquishing of labor-backed Democrat Tim Sbranti and may have been the trigger leading to independent Democrat Glazer topping another labor-friendly Democrat, Susan Bonilla, last May in the Seventh State Senate District.

Moderate Democrats like Orinda Councilmember Amy Worth and Contra Costa County Democratic Party farmhand Jerome Pandell were early rumored candidates, but neither appeared to have the mettle of unseating the freshman Republican.