The Alameda County Board of Supervisors is by far the most stable elected body in the East Bay. But after 24 years at the helm of the Tri-Valley and Fremont District 1, Supervisor Scott Haggerty is retiring. This year mark the first time the general region has seen a competitive race for supervisor since Haggerty was first elected in 1996. Amazingly, this contest has featured enough action to almost fill the more than two decade that Haggerty never even faced one challenger. Dublin Mayor David Haubert and Fremont Councilmember Vinnie Bacon were not the candidates most believed would advance from the March primary, but both have pulled no punches for months.
One notable difference is Haubert’s change in strategy from the primary and Bacon’s decision to stick to an anti-developer script he’s used to win two terms on the Fremont City Council and a first-place finish in the March primary. In some ways, Haubert, with his access to large amount of contributions from housing developers, represented Bacon’s preferred candidate among the field of primary supervisorial candidates. Just like the primary, Bacon has hammered Haubert for having a campaign war chest of more than $400,000 that is larded with developer money. Bacon’s odd mix of progressive and NIMBY politics resonates with many suburban homeowners in the Tri-Valley and Fremont. So does his own description of being a “clean money” candidate who does not accept contributions from developers and special interests.
However, until this fall supervisorial race, Bacon never faced the kind of pushback he’s seen from Haubert’s campaign. The “clean money” script was flipped by Haubert when he charged Bacon’s overreliance on large donations from his own pocket and family members as evidence that Bacon is attempting to buy the District 1 seat.
Potentially more damaging to Bacon’s campaign, Haubert began painstakingly using his opponent’s past campaign finance violations to undercut the righteousness of Bacon’s “clean money” pledge. The onslaught continued when T.J. Dhami, a prominent Sikh businessman reported that Bacon had left him a threatening voicemail in late September. Bacon did not apologize for the voicemail, in which he suggested Dhami’s participation in local Democratic Party politics will be over because he was helping Haubert’s campaign.
OUTLOOK: Haubert’s assault on Bacon’s integrity throughout this campaign is necessitated, of course, because Bacon’s position speaks to both halves of District 1. This race comes down to voter outreach, which is proving to be maddening to gauge during a pandemic. Do residents unfamiliar with Bacon in the Tri-Valley know about the hits being made against his character? Like in life, money can paper over a lot of your problems. The money disparity in this race is extreme. As of the most recent reporting period, Haubert’s $200,000 in campaign cash reserves swamped Bacon’s 62,000. The difference is likely even larger when new reports are released soon. It’s very questionable that Bacon can be making the same consistent case against Haubert with so little money. It’s also very disconcerting that Bacon is not making more hay out of Haubert being an independent and former Republican. In Alameda County, more people than ever before are likely to vote in this November’s election. The increase is due to a passion to unseat President Trump. Linking Haubert to Trump like Rebecca Bauer-Kahan deftly did to upset Republican Tri-Valley Assemblymember Catharine Baker two years ago seems like a winning strategy and potentially a missed opportunity that could cost Bacon this election, if it’s the nail biter most predict.