The 12-year state legislative cycle has rendered most assembly and state senate races as cakewalks for incumbents since new term limits were enacted in 2012. Of the eight legislative seats in Alameda County, just one race is a fully contested, while another could hold some drama next year. Otherwise, incumbents will again hold a distinct advantage, at least, until 2024.
Earlier this year, 25th District Assemblymember Kansen Chu announced he would not seek re-election to his San Jose seat that includes a portion of Fremont. Instead, he is a candidate for the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors.
Nine candidates will be on the Mar. 3 primary ballot. The top two will advance to the November general election.
One of the reasons for such an expansive field of candidates is none of them are viewed as frontrunners. Eight of the nine are Democrats. The lone Republican, Bob Brunton, has run unsuccessfully for the seat several times in recent years.
The rest of the field includes Santa Clara school board member Jim Canova, who received a $500 campaign contribution from Chu, but has not yet received an official endorsement; Santa Clara County Board of Education Trustee Anna Song; attorney Anne Kepner; and political activist Natasha Gupta.
Two elected officials from the Milpitas City Council are in the race. Councilmembers Anthony Phan and Carmen Montano qualified for the ballot. In fact, nearly every member of the Milpitas City Council showed interest, at some point, in running for Chu’s seat.
Fremont Planning Commissioner and stem cell research activist Roman Reed rounds out the list of candidates.
SD7: Further north, Democratic state Sen. Steve Glazer is being primaried by Marisol Rubio, who is underfunded at this point, but has received strong institutional support from progressives within the Democratic Party and labor unions. Glazer’s constant opposition to BART strikes has long rendered him unpopular among these groups.
But Glazer remains popular in the Lamorinda and Tri-Valley seventh district. Republican Julie Mobley is late qualifier to the March primary and could potentially siphon partisan conservative voters away from Glazer, a moderate Democrat.
SD9: State Sen. Nancy Skinner capped a second straight year of impressive legislative wins this year by moving the NCAA closer to paying student-athletes, a long vexing issue in the sport, with passage of her “Fair Pay to Play Act.” Apparently, residents in the Berkeley and Oakland state senate district are happy with her representation. Skinner’s re-election will not be contested next year.
AD18: Assemblymember Rob Bonta will face re-election against a familiar face, Alameda Republican Stephen Slauson. Bonta trounced Slauson in both the 2018 primary and general election. During the campaign, Slauson deployed a talking point used by then-presidential candidate Donald Trump, publicly questioning whether Bonta is an American citizen.
AD16: Democratic Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan’s first re-election campaign in the 16th District will be against Republican Joe Rubay. Bauer-Kahan’s upset of Republican Catharine Baker in 2018 was the local election cycle’s biggest upset. Rubay formerly ran against Glazer in the seventh state senate district.
AD15: Assemblymember Buffy Wicks is also up for re-election for the first time. Her opponent last year, former Richmond Councilmember Jovanka Beckles, showed early interest in a rematch, but relented. In her place is Republican Jeanne Solnordal and Sara Brink, an independent.
AD20: Hayward Democratic Assemblymember Bill Quirk, who was elected in 2012, is facing three challengers next March, including one from the left. Progressive Democrat Alexis Villalobos. Vipan Bajwa, who ran last year for the Union City Council also qualified for the primary ballot, as did, Republican Son Nguyen.