Assemblymember Catharine Baker and
challenger Cheryl Cook-Kallio.

ASSEMBLY | 16TH DISTRICT | It took six years for Republicans to snatch the 16th Assembly District from Democrats. Now Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon wants it back in the Democrat’s column after just one election cycle.

Rendon called the campaign for the Contra Costa County and Tri Valley-centered seat held by Republican Catharine Baker a “top pick-up opportunity for Democrats in the Assembly.”

Former Pleasanton Councilmember Cheryl Cook-Kallio, a Democrat, is the only other candidate in the June primary campaign. Because of the open primary system, they will face each other again the November general election, regardless of the outcome on June 7.

The new speaker said Cook-Kallio is a perfect fit for a district that tends to lean moderate. “We are going to give Cheryl all the support she needs to get elected this November,” said Rendon.

Cook-Kallio hinted to the East Bay Citizen last month that Rendon intended to focus Democrats on her race this year.

The 16th District is one of the few areas in the East Bay that includes a large number of registered Republicans (31.9 percent), while Democrats represent 39.9 percent of the electorate. Independents also hold sway with 22.7 percent of voters.

Two years ago, Baker was the beneficiary of two moderate Democrats—Tim Sbranti and Steve Glazer—splitting the vote in the primary. Baker then easily won in November on the strength of her opposition to BART strikes, an issue that energized the Republican base.

Republican primary voters may again flock to the polls because of the first contested presidential primary in California in a generation coming this June. But the 16th District’s demographical breakdown could skew towards a Democrat in November, especially if the top-of-the-ballot matchup is between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.