15TH ASSEMBLY DISTRICT
The biggest political campaign in the East Bay next June is wasting little time revving up its fundraising engine.
The race in the 15th Assembly District already appeared to many local politicos as a early toss-up and a litany of endorsements and already large campaign coffers is only bolstering this initial analysis.
The seat was opened up last April when 15th District Assemblymember Tony Thurmond announced he would not run for re-election to a third term and instead declare his candidacy for state superintendent of public instruction. In the months since five candidate have officially filed intent to replace him.
They include Oakland Councilmember Dan Kalb, Richmond Councilmember Jovanka Beckles, political consultant Buffy Wicks, East Bay MUD board director Andy Katz and a potential darkhouse candidate in Berkeley school board member Judy Appel. The list, though, is likely to grow.
But before the race stabilizes, those already in the race are beginning to make their moves. It started last month when Beckles made a move to grab the attention of Berniecrats in the district. Our Revolution East Bay, a local offshoot of Sen. Bernie Sanders‘ presidential campaign announced support for Beckles.
The more appear to inspire Kalb to play a considerable card in the form of popular Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf‘s endorsement of his campaign. Kalb’s move, according to some Oakland insiders, is most likely not a bid exclusively to neutralize Beckles’ progressive endorsement, but a strategy to attract donors.
That’s because the least known member of the five current candidates made a big splash last week following the release of campaign finance reports. Wicks reported $209,314 in contributions through July 31, according to finance reports. Meanwhile Kalb raised $71,570 during the same period, followed by Katz with $50,024, and Beckles at $49,549. Appel did not file a semi-annual finance report.
Wicks’s excellent finance report comes from her strong ties to the Democratic Party as a consultant for the presidential campaigns of both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. A vast majority of Wicks’ contributors are out-of-state donors, a fact her assembly race opponents might used against her next year.
The extra cash, though, will come in handy for Wicks, who will need to introduce herself to voters in the district. Of the five candidates so far, Wicks is the only who is not a current elected official in the district that includes areas between Richmond, Berkeley and North Oakland.