AD 16 PREVIEW: The Passive-Aggressive Assembly Race

Assemblymember Catharine Baker and former Pleasanton Councilmember Cheryl Cook-Kallio in the race to represent parts of Contra Costa County and the Tri Valley in the Assembly’s 16th District.

MEET THE CANDIDATES Assemblymember CATHARINE BAKER just sort of fell from the sky two years ago and gave the region’s Republican Party a reason to thank their lucky stars. The freshman GOP lawmaker also settled in quite quickly in Sacramento. Baker, A former Pleasanton attorney, Baker was given a modicum of leeway in voting outside of the GOP’s box on a few high-profile issues such as the childhood vaccination controversy last year. Baker voted in favor of Senate Bill 277 while other Republicans voted no. Baker was the only Republican to vote for Senate Bill 32, the comprehensive climate-change legislation strongly favored by Gov. Jerry Brown. A recent Sacramento Bee study found Baker’s voting record showed she was the Republican most likely to vote with Democrats in the Assembly. “I’ll listen to any good idea regardless of the partisan label it came from and think outside the traditional box that is coming out of Sacramento,” said Baker. She also reflects the GOP’s ideology for lower taxes, less regulation. CHERYL COOK-KALLIO is a former member of the Pleasanton City Council and a retired high school civic teacher. She ran for mayor in 2014 and fell short. But despite Baker’s first-term record, the 16th Assembly District’s composition of moderates voters and a smaller than normal registration advantage for Democrats makes this seat a perennial battleground. Assembly Democrats also realized the path toward a two-thirds majority in the Assembly runs through the Contra Costa County and Tri Valley seat. Enter Cook-Kallio who supports the party’s desire to push a menu of progressive reforms to education, climate-change, and gun control, among other issues. Gov. Brown even took the step of endorsing Cook-Kallio.

WHAT THE BEEF? This should be known as the Passive-Aggressive Assembly Race. Make no mistake, this race has been vicious, albeit, it seems, with both trading barbs with a friendly smile. “I think we’ve been underserved in the 16th Assembly District,” said Cook-Kallio, who often peppers her stump speeches with references to her support from Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL). That’s because Cook-Kallio has used Baker’s votes against preventative care for women as a hammer since back in the June primary. And despite Baker’s record of voting in favor of gun control legislation, Cook-Kallio has focused on her opponent’s votes to weaken or block those bills from coming to a vote. At one forum, Cook-Kallio said, “I think we’re all smart enough to look at comprehensive gun violence prevention.” Meanwhile, it’s no doubt, teachers’ unions are opposed to Baker. For a second straight campaign, she has highlighted the need, she says, for eliminating teachers tenure and seniority. Consequently, teachers’ unions have spent a treasure chest to defeat Baker just as they unsuccessfully attempted in 2014. Baker’s onslaught against labor has continued this Fall with her opposition to public transit union strikes. In many ways, it’s the issue that got Baker elected in the first place. “I do not think BART workers should have the ability to strike and keep the entire Bay Area immobile,” Baker said bluntly. She also differs with Cook-Kallio in opposing any changes to Proposition 13. But among many differences between the candidates, the defining question in this race is a push by both to portray the other as sheep in wolf’s clothing. Baker’s repeated pledge to foster bipartisanship in Sacramento is met with Cook-Kallio’s response that Baker’s moderate record is a facade hiding a rigid conservative ideology. Baker says voters don’t know who Cook-Kallio really is. “I don’t fill out the secret vote promises from the special interests in Sacramento. My opponent does and refuses to show them to voters like you and me,” Baker said at one forum. In the meantime, hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent by both campaign, IEs and others on mailers that drive home this essential theme against each campaign.

*Catharine Baker (R)………………….70136   53.5%
Cheryl Cook-Kallio (D)………………..60947   46.5%

Catharine Baker (R)………………….,68598   51.5%
Tim Sbranti (D)………………………64484   48.5%

             -JUL-SEPT24-           -2016-
AD16          IN      OUT         IN     OUT       CASH
BAKER    806,832  583,311 1,659,393 1042,337 $1,209,263
C-KALLIO 856,944  626,240 1,435,181 1026,305 $  435,834

OUTLOOK Baker represents different things to different segments of the electorate. As the only Republican in the East Bay’s legislative caucus, Baker is the lone bright light in an otherwise dismal political landscape for conservatives. Conversely, for Democrats, she is Public Enemy #1. The California Democratic Party has spent more than $1.2 million to support Cook-Kallio. That’s just the party alone with IEs spending nearly the same amount–petroleum special interests for Baker, teachers’ unions for Cook-Kallio. The normally cash-strapped California GOP has even spent $800,000 on Baker’s behalf. That shows just much this seat is in play. A win for Cook-Kallio takes Assembly Democrats even closer to their desired two-thirds majority and almost unfettered control of the agenda in Sacramento. In addition to Cook-Kallio’s strong financial and institutional support, the November electorate, likely boosted by record numbers of newly-registered Democrats, presumably ready to vote for Clinton, is a big wildcard in this toss-up race. (Baker does not support Donald Trump, by the way.) But Baker has her own inherent strength, moderate voters in the district who have shown to be easily stoked by anti-BART (anti-union) rhetoric. The playbook as created by Baker and state Sen. Steve Glazer has repeatedly shown voters in this district can be energized by this issue. Throw in Glazer’s slight wrinkle of charging the labor-backed candidate with hiding their answers to confidential union questionnaires and you have a template for victory that Baker is wholeheartedly employing this Fall.

Categories: 2016 Election, AD16, Assembly, Catharine Baker, Cheryl Cook-Kallio, climate change, Democrats, preview, Republicans, women

19 replies

  1. As a disgusted Democrat, I whole-heartily support clean Cathy Baker. She is is breath of clean, fresh air, and will put the union whores in their place!


  2. By MW:

    The most interesting and most important item in this article is the fact that it makes reference, although only light reference, to a subject the media almost never mentions, in other words in regard to most issues, some legislative bodies operate under an unwritten rule that individual members are absolutely required by their party's leadership to vote the party line, and rather than using their own judgment.

    ALSO: As far as the issue of gun control, that did not really get into high gear until the “101 California Street incident,” and which involved a former client of the San Francisco law firm that was known as Pettitt & Martin.

    Previous to the P & M incident not many people made a big deal about gun control. However the P & M incident got all of the demagogues all fired up and in many times higher gear about gun control, and just as the supposed Gulf of Tonkin “incident,” and which was probably invented out of whole cloth by LBJ, got virtually all of the fools, demagogues, charlatans, and puppets on a string in the US Congress all fired up and willing to declare all out war on the North Vietnamese.

    However P & M was one of the very sleaziest “law” firms in the entire country, and a so called “law” firm whose specialties included representing white collar criminals that needed a sleazy “law” firm to defend themselves from whistleblowers.

    In other words, P & M's specialties included trying to: one, harass and intimidate whistleblowers; and two, deliberately and sadistically mistreat people to the point that they would explode and make fools of themselves.

    (NOTE: To get some reference as to how extremely sleazy some lawyers will get in systematically and sadistically attacking people who are victims and/or whistleblowers when the lawyer is well aware that his own client is actually guilty, research the manner in which: one, Hillary treated crime victim Kathy Shelton when Hillary was well aware her own client was actually guilty; and two, a certain major SF law firm treated, and also tried to destroy the lives of, the whistleblowers who had the “outrageous gall” to tell the truth about Lance Armstrong's steroid use.)

    Anyway as far as the gun control movement, a lot of its very strongest supporters are some of the very sleaziest of the type of law firms that specialize in covering up the types of toxic violations, and including in regard to such things as asbestos exposures, that lead to hundreds of thousands of premature deaths per year.

    So if we were really serious about reducing the rate of unnecessary deaths, we would concern ourselves much less with gun control and much more with CROOKED LAWYER CONTROL, and including since crooked lawyers are responsible for many times more deaths every year, and also ruined lives, than guns.

    However since sleazy lawyers and crooked law firms are major sources of election campaign contributions, therefore the demagogues and charlatans in both the California legislature and the US Congress get down on their hands and knees and give the crooked lawyers virtually everything they want.


  3. Baker did not “vote against preventative care for women.” She voted against forcing taxpayers to be complicit in the murders of unborn children.


  4. BY MW:

    Concerning the above post of 10:05:

    While I have mixed feelings in regard to abortion, under what conditions that perhaps it should be allowed, and perhaps only in the first three months, or first six months, or whatever, however it is beyond ridiculous that a full term and fully formed nine month fetus can be legally murdered as long as we call it partial birth abortion instead of murder.

    But then if we are going to allow the murder of fully formed nine month fetuses by describing it as partial birth abortion instead of as murder, and in a process in which they deliver a baby but them kill it by suctioning the brain out, perhaps we can find a way to keep the fetuses still alive that have had their brains suctioned out and then give them jobs working as lawyers in Alameda County's DA's office or County Counsel's office.

    In other words, I do not think there would be any difference in intelligence and competence between someone who has a totally dead brain and someone who is totally lacking a brain.


  5. Cheryl Cook-Kallio is an ineffective politician. She is not bright, has no charisma, and is a weak leader. She does not do her homework, shows up to meetings in total ignorance and then just votes like her friends. She is a horrible choice for anything besides retirement.


  6. Most if not all politicians are ineffective. Especially those who have previously served on city councils.


  7. Baker got a very poor grade from planned parenthood. She is more conservative than moderate and Cook-Kallio is moderately progressive. She has a great chance of winning now that Obama has endorsed Cheryl.


  8. As two pissed off Democrats, my Puerto Rico lesbian wife and I will be supporting clean Cathy Baker! She doesn't prostitute herself for the union whores the way that Cheryl Crook is in their pockets.

    Obama's name means nothing to us nor anyone else at the local level. It's all about local control, and keeping the union sluts from picking our pockets clean!


  9. Baker is too conservative for this District. Cheryl Cook-Kallio is more moderate and should win if the millennials turn out, which may or may not happen.


  10. Our dear Cathy Baker has been great for our district. She's the PEOPLE'S CHOICE!

    Her great record and incumbency seal the deal!


  11. Incumbent Catharine Baker is a moderate Republican, but some of her votes are inexcusable. For example, she voted to deny farm workers overtime pay! Democratic challenger Cheryl Cook-Kallio is more conservative than I, but she’ll be an improvement over Baker. I’d vote for Cook-Kallio.


  12. We were always taught you don't ever, ever support a union slut=Cheryl Crook.


  13. You sound like Donald Trump. Try making an intelligent argument for your candidate instead of name calling.


  14. We agree. Cheryl Crook is in bed with the unions and will sell out the taxpayers at each and every turn.


  15. Baker is too conservative for me. Denying farm workers overtime pay was the final straw that convinced me to support the more moderate Democrat Cook-Kallio.


  16. Our dear Cathy Baker has been great for our district. She's the PEOPLE'S CHOICE!

    Her great record and incumbency seal the deal!


  17. Cook-Kallio was my teacher in high school and helped form me to be a civics-minded person. She'd make a great assemblywoman.


  18. Rather pathetic that the best the local Dems can do is Cook-Kallio. She is not the least bit progressive, and is not much to the left of Baker.


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