AD15: Dems again offer no endorsement, but Wicks comes close

Buffy Wicks, 15th Assembly District candidates, addressing Democrats during a post-primary endorsement caucus Saturday morning in Richmond with her opponent, Jovanka Beckles, in the foreground, left.

For a second time during this election cycle, Democrats in the 15th Assembly District declined to give a candidate its pivotal party endorsement.

Neither of the Democrats this November top two general election–Buffy Wicks and Jovanka Beckles–were able to attain the 60 percent threshold of votes required for the state Democratic Party endorsement.

Wicks, a Democratic Party operative who worked for both President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign in California, however, came close during the post-primary endorsement caucus in Richmond on Saturday morning.

Wicks received 25 of the 47 votes–a total just 4 shy needed for the endorsement. Beckles, a Richmond councilmember, received 17 votes, and 5 voted for “no endorsement.”

“We had a good showing,” said Wicks. “We got the most votes and I think that reflects the excitement around my campaign.”

AD15 Nov collage
15th Assembly District candidates Jovanka Beckles and Buffy Wicks.

Beckles also said she was pleased with the results, although she expressed mild surprise that local Democrats had not aligned their votes with the party’s progressive platform. “I was hoping that we would see that for the vote for the most progressive person,” said Beckles. “But I’ll tell you what. I’m happy with it because no endorsement means we get to play on a level playing field.”

Although Saturday’s results were inconclusive, the vote, nonetheless, revealed some surprising votes, primarily among the state and federal elected officials who represent all or much of the 15th District centered around Berkeley, Richmond, and North Oakland.

Rep. Barbara Lee voted “no endorsement,” as did the current 15th District Assemblymember Tony Thurmond. State Sen. Nancy Skinner did not cast a ballot.

The three high-profile voters–all viewed as progressive stalwarts–may signal a problem for Beckles, who is viewed as the most progressive candidates of the two remaining candidates.

“I was just surprised because this is the most progressive district in the state. The most diverse district in the state and I would hope that we would want someone who is equally diverse and equally as progressive,” said Beckles.

Other notable votes from Saturday: Beckles received votes from Berkeley school board member Judy Appel, Oakland Councilmemebr Dan Kalb, El Cerrito Councilmember Rochelle Pardue-Okimoto–all former opponents from the June primary.

Wicks received votes from former 15th Assembly District candidate Elizabeth Echols and Piedmont Councilmember Teddy Gray King.

Oakland Councilmember Annie Campbell Washington did not cast a ballot, and Emeryville Councilmember Dianne Martinez voted “no endorsement.” Following the vote tally, Wicks said Martinez had rescinded her vote. But because Martinez’s ballot had already been received, her vote remained.

Local Democrats also hedged their bets during the pre-primary endorsement caucus last January, with “no endorsement” overwhelmingly receiving the most votes among the then-seven candidates in the field. Wicks went on to win the June primary with 31.4 percent of the vote in a strong 12-candidate field. Beckles finished second with 15.8 percent.

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