As the dynamics of the presidential election begin to take hold, it’s becoming increasingly clear that East Bay Republican Assemblymember Catharine Baker‘s fate will rest with The Donald. The 16th Assembly District only slightly favors Democrats and includes a clear majority of Republicans and independents. And even though Baker reported $990,000 in campaign cash through the June 30 reporting period, as opposed, to Democratic challenger Cheryl Cook-Kallio‘s $205,000 reserve, the makeup of the district is going to present some uneasy moments for the first-term Republican. Presidential elections like this one are definitely fluid. At the current time, a long string of poor performances by Donald Trump has pundits predicting a landslide for Hillary Clinton. Of course, that will likely change and the presidential campaign will again tighten up. But, if it doesn’t, Baker’s campaign has to be on pins-and-needles. It is very conceivable Baker could lose the November election by no fault of her own, but only because Trump cannot control his message and keeps Republicans and moderates at home while energizing Democrats to vote for the first woman president in U.S. history. That favors Cook-Kallio.

Lena Tam served on the Alameda City Council
for two terms ending in 2014.

TAM-PERING IN ALAMEDA By most accounts, former Alameda Councilmember Lena Tam ran a poor campaign two years ago in an unsuccessful bid to unseat BART Board Director Robert Raburn. Labor was squarely in Tam’s corner then to defeat the BART director they believed turned their back on them during the BART strikes. Tam’s interest in making a return to the Alameda City Council will not likely include much union backing, according to Island insiders. Good ol’ fashioned horse-trading by Tam for a local government position may have also created the Alameda council seat as a fallback, a source said. The retooled Tam’s role in the fall race for two open council seats could complicate the growing field of challengers. Alameda’s election this fall is destined to revolve around the rent issue, but don’t expect Tam to be on the side of renters. Without union support, word is Tam is being backed by Asian American landlords and business interests. One prominent backer of her potential campaign is Oakland Chinatown insider Carl Chan, who lives in Alameda. Nevertheless, Tam enjoys strong name-recognition within Alameda’s growing Asian American community and the community at-large. Tam served eight years on the City Council. Her former colleague, Councilmember Tony Daysog, up for re-election this fall, could provide landlords with a strong one-two punch, that is, unless the winds of the Alameda rent control issue blow hard in their faces, instead of at their backs.

Oakland Council President Lynette Gibson McElhaney
is receiving a lot of interest from a number of low-level
opponents as the filing deadline approaches.

OAKLAND IS FUMING The first terms of Oakland Councilmembers Lynette Gibson McElhaney, Dan Kalb, Noel Gallo have been relatively successful. Only McElhaney has faced some controversy through a number of ethics allegations. Furthermore, beating an incumbent in Oakland, or really anywhere in the East Bay, is a monumental feat, but many Oakland residents are fuming over the council as a whole for a lack of transparency on a number of high-profile issues, namely the scandal at the Oakland Police Department. The perceived gutting of the Oakland Police Commission ballot measure to provide deference to Mayor Libby Schaaf to hand-pick three members of the commission is creating even more angst. The totality of events is also inspiring a number of candidates for the five seats up for re-election this November. First-termers like Kalb and Gallo currently have just a single challenger in advance of the Aug. 12 filing deadline. But McElhaney already has six potential challengers. Veteran Councilmember Larry Reid has three potential opponents and Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan has five. In every instance, the potential challengers are likely to be severely underfunded candidates, but the possibility of more people entering McElhaney and Kaplan’s race could complicate things under Oakland’s rank-choice voting system. Click here to peruse the entire 2016 East Bay Candidates List, updated daily through the Aug. 12 filing deadline.

HERE AND THERE A representative from Rep. Mike Honda‘s campaign said Wednesday they will open a new campaign office soon in Newark…Candidate forum and debate season will soon be upon us. Voters in Oakland will have a one-stop shop for hearing about candidates from all five open city council seats on Aug. 25. The Alameda County Democratic Central Committee said it will host a candidate forum at the Elihu Harris State Building on Clay Street. Incidentally, the forums will be hosted by the building’s namesake, former Oakland Mayor Elihu Harris.