|Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley faces Bryan Parker in next week’s winner-takes-all June election.|
MEET THE CANDIDATES Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley has represented District Four since 2001. Before that, he was an Oakland city council member. Miley’s years of service include several accomplishments: Keeping the county afloat over several years of triple-digit deficits without cutting staff. Miley also led the county’s effort to build youth centers and libraries in unincorporated Alameda County. In addition, he helped modernize Castro Valley Boulevard’s streetscape. Curiously, these accomplishments have rarely taken center stage through the course of the campaign. Instead, Miley’s county ordinance requiring pharmaceutical companies to provide drug disposal services has been front and center in direct-mail pieces. On the flip side, Miley is well-known for being brusque and confrontational during Board of Supervisors meetings. County watchers know his favorite go-to line is to challenge opponents to “vote me out of office.” That’s exactly what Bryan Parker is hoping.
The former 2014 Oakland mayoral candidate and former health care executive has never been elected to public office. He was appointed in 2013 by former Oakland Mayor Jean Quan to serve on the Port of Oakland commission, but stepped down earlier this year to challenge Miley’s re-election. Although, Parker finished sixth in 15-person mayor’s race two years ago, he’s recreating one important strength from that campaign–an ability to raise large quantities of fundraising. In a race where, the incumbent is always one of the most prohibitive favorites in all of East Bay politics, Parker’s fundraising prowess has significantly neutralized Miley’s inherent advantage to tap into a variety of sources hoping to maintain the status quo. What is left is an evenly-matched winner-take-all June election that may come down to whose ground game is the best and which candidate wins Pleasanton, the most conservative portion of the district, that also includes East Oakland, Castro Valley and other unincorporated areas of Alameda County.
WHAT’S THE BEEF? Keeping the status quo versus change at the Board of Supervisors. Miley says Parker’s lack of experience should concern voters. However, on most issues, they appear to see eye-to-eye–no rent control for unincorporated Alameda County, the need for affordable housing–included. This is not a job that can be easily done by a neophyte, Miley has often said during this campaign. Parker’s campaign, however, has been about a relentless push to characterize Miley as an entrenched public official working for his own interests. An attack web site and companion mailer asserting, “Nate is in it for Nate,” appears to have hit Miley’s campaign squarely between the eyes. It describes Miley’s past coziness with county contractors and money doled out to his children via his own campaign funds. Oddly, it took a few weeks for Miley to respond. A mailer last week took Parker to task for going negative, while pledged not to do the same. However, an independent expenditure committee formed May 6 in support of Miley is out there potentially with a late negative piece up its sleeve.
PAST RESULTS 2012 June Primary: 1. Nate Miley 32,389 (71.56%) 2. Tojo Thomas 12,562 (27.75%).
CAMPAIGN FINANCE (Through May 21): Miley $246,181 raised, $66,230 cash on hand; Parker $172,233 raised, $32,671 cash on hand.
OUTLOOK If body language is any indicator, Miley is extremely worried and Parker is extremely confident. Moreover, Miley’s late moves also show his campaign is scrambling to hold onto re-election. The mailer pledging to take the high ground in response to Parker’s devastating hit piece and the IE (Yes, IEs legally cannot coordinate with campaigns) appear to be very late attempts to shore up rising doubt about Miley and concerns that so goes Pleasanton, so goes the election. Rep. Eric Swalwell’s surprising endorsement of Parker in late April is important in the Tri Valley. Swalwell has also been proactive by campaigning a bit for Parker. That’s troublesome for Miley. It’s why the IE is focused on Pleasanton with a mailer, door hanger and radio spot touting the endorsement of the entire Pleasanton City Council. That doesn’t seem good enough. Furthermore, if Miley is voted out of office next week, he can only blame himself for running one of the worst re-election campaigns ever seen in Alameda County. Miley clearly was not telling the truth when he declared recognition of Parker’s candidacy late last year because his campaign is asleep at the wheel, making strategy moves in the last two weeks that almost suggests they erroneously believe Election Day is July 7, not June 7. This race will go down to the wire. Parker has run an efficient, mistake-free and well thought out campaign that has put him in position to register the biggest upset in Alameda County politics since Swalwell ended Pete Stark’s 40 years in Congress in 2012. The victory will also have wider ramification later for other county supervisors, some even more entrenched than Miley.
PREDICTION 1. Parker 2. Miley