Hayward Assemblymember Bill Quirk’s move to Union City last year and profligate spending for a re-election campaign that faced token opposition raised questions last fall for many in the district who suspected the long-time official was signaling an end to service in public office.
“Not retiring yet,” Quirk wrote in an email to the East Bay Citizen that includes an announcement for his campaign kickoff fundraiser for the 2020 primary. Quirk has served the district as an assemblymember since 2012, and before that, eight years on the Hayward City Council.
Last June, Quirk ran unopposed in the 20th Assembly District, which covers Hayward, Castro Valley, and most of the Tri-Cities of Union City, Newark, and Fremont. In November, Quirk faced Republican Joe Grcar, who qualified on the ballot as a write-in candidate in the June primary.
News of Quirk’s move to a senior community in Union City suggested to many that he and his wife were downsizing. Further stoking interest was the manner in which Quirk’s was spending his during re-election campaign.
It’s common for an incumbent Democrat in the Legislature facing little competition to redirect large campaign funds back to the state party. Quirk did so last October with a $111,000 contribution to the California Democratic Party, according to fundraising reports. In addition, Quirk contributed two equal donations since last May to the state party totaling $73,000.
The curious outlay on the campaign trail last fall, however, further interested some Hayward insiders who have wondered in the past whether Quirk would fill out the entire 12 years possible to serve in Sacramento due to term limits.
Quirk spent at least $25,000 on East Bay political consultant Clifford Moss just prior to the November Election. (Post-election campaign finance reports will be available next month.) But the consultant’s work did not fully focus on Quirk’s re-election, but also lending a hand to a number of local candidates and ballot measures. A move that suggested to some that Quirk was beginning to wind down his campaign account.
Quirk’s campaign spent on mailers favoring various Hayward City Council and school board candidates that were co-branded with Quirk’s re-election, in addition, to another in support of Measure T, the city’s ballot measure to increase the Real Property Transfer Tax. Quirk did the same for the Hayward Unified School District’s bond measure.
Further raising speculation is the fact Quirk has not been a prodigious fundraisers over the years. His initial run for the assembly was greatly funded by his own money. In recent years, labor unions, for one, have poured hundreds of thousands into his campaigns.
The type of spending coming from Quirk’s campaign could also be an example of the dark side of statewide and federal politics. Redirecting campaign contributions to the state party is often akin to paying alms to the assembly speaker in order to gain appointments to desired committee posts.
If so, Quirk’s expenditures only yielded the status quo. Earlier this month, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon reappointed Quirk as chair of the Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee, along with seats on the Appropriation and Public Safety Committees.
What Quirk’s 2020 kickoff fundraiser does not suggest is the possibility of a credible challenger in June 2020. That’s because there continues to be a striking lack of a bench in the district for potential successors to replace Quirk in coming years.