My View: Krovoza Big Winner in Early Campaign Disclosure Round


You always tell yourself that you cannot read much into early returns – after all, we have nearly a year left until someone actually votes for one of these candidates.  However, there is a big winner in these early campaign finance statements and that is Davis Mayor Joe Krovoza.

Let me throw in a paragraph or two of caution here.  First, Dan Wolk remains a very formidable candidate.  He would probably hesitate at the label frontrunner, but when your mother is the state senator and has been in the state legislature for 12 years, and before that was a county supervisor and a mayor of Davis, you have to be considered the favorite.

Second, this is not a Yolo County-dominated district anymore and we have not really heard from Anthony Farrington (Lake) or Bill Dodd or Matt Pope (Napa) yet.

So, we will hold off on the coronation for just now.  But there is one thing that Joe Krovoza proved – he is going to work hard, he is going to hit the phones, and he can hold his own in this race.  Again, I am not saying he is the frontrunner or will win either, but I think everyone can forget the scenario where either Dan Wolk or Joe Krovoza gracefully bows out to return to the city council – and, yes, I think that scenario would still be in the best interest of all involved, but we can forget it.

The body language from the Dan Wolk campaign was not good coming out of this.  Since both candidates announced nearly two months ago, I have heard the drumbeat that Joe Krovoza has no base, that he has no support in the district, and that Dan Wolk is going to come out with the impressive list of supporters that shows broad district-wide support.

Will Arnold, Dan Wolk’s campaign manager, told the Vanguard on Wednesday, “Dan launched his campaign for Assembly on June 15 and, in the following two weeks, he raised an impressive $50,000.”

He added, “We have been amazed by the level of support the campaign has received thus far, evidenced both by the funds Dan was able to raise in such a short time, and by his growing list of campaign endorsers from throughout the district. This is exactly the start we hoped for.”

The implication has been from the Wolk campaign that Joe Krovoza launched his campaign far before Dan Wolk.  However, when Joe Krovoza announced his run for Assembly, Dan Wolk let everyone know he was running too.

Moreover, if we look down the list of Dan Wolk supporters we see an interesting pattern.  We see Dan Wolk’s parents.  We see the colleagues of Dan Wolk’s parents.  And we see the employees of Dan Wolk’s parents and their clients in very prominent detail.

The biggest knock on Dan Wolk right now is that he has less than a full resume in his own right, and the only reason that he is a viable candidate is the work that his mother and, to a lesser extent, his father have done in this community and in the capitol.  His showing this week does nothing to dispel that belief.

Now, I am not trying to suggest that Dan Wolk is somehow in trouble here.  We have seen from experience that the Wolk-Craig Reynolds machine, which has seen Helen Thomson and Lois Wolk as the previous two assemblymembers prior to Mariko Yamada’s six years in Sacramento, is a formidable machine that should not be taken lightly.

However, Joe Krovoza has now done not only what he needed to do to become viable in this race, where Bill Dodd is sitting on a $75,000 war chest from his days as a Napa County Supervisor, but he has shown that his ability to put together a political machine in his own right when he came from nowhere to win all but one precinct in Davis is no fluke.

Dan Wolk will be fine.  He and his backers have shown the ability to raise money and become viable and I expect nothing less from a candidate as well-schooled as Mr. Wolk.

But this is going to be a tough race.

One of the many wild cards will be the unions.  In 2008, the unions took a candidate in Mariko Yamada that everyone believed was dead in the water.  They infused hundreds of thousands in direct and indirect contributions, they injected energy in the form of hundreds of campaign volunteers, and they took out Christopher Cabaldon.

In retrospect, this was a perfect storm for the unions.

First, the teachers did not like the West Sacramento mayor because of his work with the Ed Fund.  The service employees and Central Labor Council did not like the West Sacramento mayor because of his support of Walmart.

But second, Mariko Yamada was a darling of the unions and someone they felt would back them without question.

These dynamics are probably not in play in this race.  First, it’s a five-candidate race rather than a two-candidate race.  So it would be much more difficult for the unions to focus their resources on taking out one candidate in hopes of getting their preferred candidate elected.  That makes the infusion much more tricky.

Second, while Joe Krovoza may have angered the firefighters, he would seem to be in reasonable standing with other much more powerful statewide unions.  Mayor Krovoza does not need huge union support, he just needs to do enough to keep them from trying to throw all of their resources behind one candidate in this race.

Third, it is not clear how much even the firefighters are going to support Dan Wolk.  He declined to take their money or their endorsement when he ran for council in 2012.  He voted against them on the critical budget vote in 2011.  And despite voting with them on fire staffing, he has been adamant on the issue of impasse and the budget.

Finally, while the union does not have anything against Lois Wolk, I remember from the days working in Sacramento that she was not extremely close to them either.

In short, unless something changes, we would not expect to see 2008 play out again in 2014.  And if that is the case, it gives Joe Krovoza a fighting chance.

But this is a tough race and, to some extent, it will depend on who has the best ability to get outside of their base.  The way it is set up right now, the two biggest counties, Napa and Yolo, have two candidates, and the third largest populated area, Lake County, has one candidate.  The winner needs to be able to get out of his base and convince voters to support him.

That is going to be difficult and expensive.  All this showing proves is that Joe Krovoza is going to be in the running for possible consideration.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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  1. Brian Riley

    I’m still not happy with Krovoza taking a campaign donation from Katehi and her husband (granted, in her husband’s name, but I think it’s community property we’re talking about, and therefore constitutes a joint donation from the both of them).

    Let’s get real. Katehi is Krovoza’s boss! (or boss’s boss). What are we being asked to accept here, that it’s perfectly OK for a UC Davis employee to accept a political campaign contribution from a boss? And we’re supposed to accept this because supposedly “no one has ever raised the issue before”? I can hardly believe that.

    At the very least, this shows an incredible political “tone deafness”. Technically, the University of California is not supposed to allow partisan political entanglements like this. This clause (quoted below) is part of the California Constitution, as it pertains to the University of California:

    “The university shall be entirely independent of all political or sectarian influence and kept free therefrom in the appointment of its regents and in the administration of its affairs […]”

    Somebody please tell me how the political donation for $500, in the name of Katehi’s husband (which is probably from the community property of the both of them, per California law’s definition of community property) is not violating this clause of the California Constitution.

    What does Krovoza know here that we don’t know, that Katehi is getting ready to abandon ship as chancellor in 2014 when she reaches the five year mark and becomes vested in the UC pension system? And if that is true, then a donation from her and her husband is less of a big deal?

  2. David M. Greenwald

    Brian: I had a conversation with Krovoza about it on Thursday, if you’re concerned about the contribution, I would be happy to arrange a meeting with you and Joe, I don’t think based on what Krovoza told me that it’s a big deal, but if you are concerned, you should have the conversation yourself.

  3. David M. Greenwald

    I would also remind you that Krovoza made a strong statement about the pepper spray ([url][/url]) last year at the city’s MLK event.

  4. ScottLay

    Political contributions are not community property for campaign finance purposes, which is why two spouses may each contribute the maximum. Beyond that, individuals can and should give independent of their employers. I gave to Dan, and I’ll probably give to Joe. Does that mean that community colleges support one of them? Of course not.

    A contribution from one individual, whether a groundskeeper or the chancellor, does not mean the “university” supports a candidate.

  5. Growth Izzue

    Aren’t the Katehi’s both residents of Davis and Yolo County? Are they going to be represented by Krovoza if he were to win? Do they not have a vote for who will represent them in their private lives? Regardless of the Katehi’s standing at the university they are still allowed to donate and vote for their local representation. At least that’s the way I see it.

  6. Brian Riley

    @ScottLay: So can you give us a reference to the case law on that?

    Also, I wasn’t attempting to imply anything about what the university per se, does and does not support. I just don’t think that a donation from an employee’s superior, at a UC campus, to that employee’s political campaign comports with that clause of the California Constitution, Article IX, Section 9, paragraph (f).

    As the clause states, regarding political and sectarian influence: “…kept free therefrom … in the administration of its affairs…” That seems fairly clear.

  7. Brian Riley

    @David M. Greenwald: Just to be clear, David, I’m directing my criticism at Katehi, not Krovoza. Since he is the employee and Katehi is his boss, or boss’s boss, then that means it’s a situation of “damned if you do, damned if you don’t.” That’s one reason why the donation shouldn’t have been made in the first place.

  8. JustSaying

    Brian, like ScottLay says… Hope this resolves the issue for you. Boy, you obviously hate Katehi more than the average person. But, converting that into this silly talk about Krovoza makes no sense.

    As ScottLay points out, you’re wrong on at least three levels.

  9. Brian Riley

    @JustSaying: Nice try, trying to deflect this conversation. My objection relative to the California Constitution is one that cannot be dismissed out of hand in such a fashion, as you are attempting to do.

    Just to give you a little tip, using the word “hate” like that shows you are in a weak position, in terms of argumentation. It’s a desperation move, throwing that word in. Sorry.

    Also, I know who you are by the way. You give yourself away with the timing of your comments.

  10. JustSaying

    Brian, why do you insist on case law citations when you provide none?

    ScottLay’s comments regarding personal donations and community make sense make sense, and your’s just don’t. The burden is on you; you make the ridiculous charge.

    “…the timing of your comments….”?

  11. Growth Izzue

    Brian Riley
    [quote]Also, I know who you are by the way. You give yourself away with the timing of your comments. [/quote]

    [quote]“…the timing of your comments….”? [/quote]

    LOL, Justsaying, I too am waiting for Mr. Riley’s reasoning on that one.

  12. SouthofDavis

    David wrote:

    > My View: Krovoza Big Winner in Early
    > Campaign Disclosure Round

    I’m wondering why David didn’t write:

    Both Krovoza and Wolk have been raising a little over $1,000/day on average since they announced they were running for Assembly. Joe announced he was entering the race more than a month before Dan and the first reporting period represents ~16% of the time the Krovoza campaign can raise money and ~12% of the time the Wolk campaign will be raising money.

  13. Don Shor

    These first reports indicate an impressive breadth of support for Joe’s campaign across the community. I’m sure Dan Wolk will redouble his efforts and will show similar support at the next reporting period.
    I think it’s inaccurate to call either campaign a “machine.” ‘Organization’ or ‘campaign effort’ is fine. But ‘political machine’ has some specific connotations that aren’t really accurate here. [url][/url]

  14. Davis Progressive

    scott lay is an interesting comparison point because his wife works for the city as one of the assistant city attorneys.

    “Joe announced he was entering the race more than a month before Dan “

    that’s not accurate they both announced the same day.

  15. Joe Krovoza

    Spyros is a work colleague who’s also become a friend. I have quite a few friends who fall into that general category. Also, Spyros likes where the city’s going with economic development (DavisRoots; considering business park land entitlements to retain/attract firms, etc.). He saw I was running, asked me if I was a Democrat, then offered that he’d support me. I assumed this meant he was generally supportive. We spoke again weeks later and he said he wanted to know how to give. I told him he could go to, and offered my sincere appreciation. I am pleased to have him as one of my 300+ donors. I affiliate with Scott’s comment — especially if he’ll drop the “probably.” I suspect the cite wanted for someone being allowed to give regardless of their employer or the position of their spouse stems from Freedom of Speech.

  16. Good Government

    Thanks for posting, Joe! I really appreciate when our leaders engage in a forum such as this. My question is: When you ran for City Council, you pledged, “For donations, precinct walkers and the core volunteers of my campaign, I am not calling on those who have a direct economic interest in the decisions of the council.” Are you going to stick to that promise this time around by replacing “the council” with “the State of California”?

  17. Anonymous Pundit

    Vic Fazio ran a political machine according to Don’s supplied definition. Craig Reynolds shrewdly cobbled together a like-minded group within that machine that would fund his political candidates. The remainder of that machine automatically throws support to establishment candidates because that is what they have been conditioned to do.

    The challenge for Krovoza is to overcome these knee-jerk endorsements and to connect with Napa County voters.

  18. SouthofDavis

    I wrote:

    > Joe announced he was entering the race
    > more than a month before Dan

    Then Davis Progressive wrote:

    > that’s not accurate they both announced the same day.

    The Vanguard today said:

    > Dan launched his campaign for Assembly on June 15

    On June 16th the Vanguard had a blog post:

    > Dan Wolk Officially Announces for Assembly

    On May 10th the Vanguard had a blog post:

    >BREAKING NEWS: Krovoza To Run For Assembly

    Unless David and the Vanguard is wrong about when the candidates announced they were running is looks like “Joe announced he was entering the race more than a month before Dan”…

    P.S. I know they both did not “just happen to decide” on May 10th and June 15th and they probably let their wives (and maybe even Davis Progressive) know they were running back in April, but neither were doing a lot (if any) of fundraising before the “official” announcements.

  19. David M. Greenwald


    May 10: BREAKING NEWS: Krovoza To Run For Assembly ([url][/url])

    May 11: My View: Krovoza v. Wolk Not in the Best Interest of This Community ([url][/url])

    In the May 11 article I write: “Soon thereafter I got a call from one of Mr. Wolk’s advisors confirming that Dan Wolk was running, and that he had planned a release in a few weeks with a host of endorsements.”

  20. JustSaying

    Actually, I read this in The Vanguard on May 11:

    I asked for and received a statement from Dan Wolk who said via text, “In response to requests from the press, I can confirm that I will be announcing my candidacy for the California State Assembly in the weeks ahead. I am inspired by the strong support and encouragement I have already received throughout the district and I look forward to a great campaign.”

  21. Davis Progressive

    so the timing issue is a non-issue here. the most important point is not that joe has more than dan, but that joe has showed he can raise money necessary to be seen as viable. mission accomplished. w e know dan can raise money, we didn’t know if joe could.

  22. ScottLay

    @Brian Riley, sorry you didn’t get your “cite” earlier, as I was driving back from the mountains. The issue about spouses being separate political entities is found in state and federal campaign finance law, which uniformly recognizes the ability for each to independently give the maximum contribution. That is separate from community property law.

    On the Article 9 of the California Constitution, the purpose of the language providing that “[t]he
    university shall be entirely independent of all political or sectarian influence” was meant to keep academics free from outside meddling by politicians. I don’t think there was ever an intent to prohibit employees (whether groundskeeper or chancellor) from exercising the political contribution rights that other citizens have.

    Is the University free from political meddling? Of course not. And, the university needs and uses politics to meet its needs. Like it or not (I’m on the fence), that’s why a political non-academic was just hired as UC President.

    I would be more concerned if perceived coercion if a superior was seeking contributions from one of his or her employees. I think that’s where you need to be careful about perception and reality.

  23. Brian Riley

    @ScottLay: Thanks for the info, but then your interpretation of that clause in Article 9, I take it, is speculative, although informed by your prior grounding in the topic.

    There’s no reason why the court would have to interpret that clause that way, as you suggest, and indeed, a case could be made that contact of that nature between a chancellor’s spouse and an employee constitutes a type of undue/improper act, from the view of the relations between boss and employee (within the context of the UC system and the California Constitution).

    I don’t think you are suggesting that an employee’s First Amendment rights extend to being able to just engage in any kind of expression when the person doing the expressing is a boss and the person being communicated with is an employee. So you’re obviously oversimplifying there (also including your oversimplification in your apparent attempt to regard Katehi’s husband as being a regular university employee.)

    In the private sphere, the First Amendment only safeguards people’s right to express themselves without the *government* making laws or rules or taking actions to prohibit what they say. It doesn’t necessarily prohibit employers from making rules about inter-office communications. The University of California, as an institution, is, of course, not part of the private sector/private sphere. It is a governmental entity, but it is not a typical governmental entity either. It is a university, a very special kind of governmental entity that is, in this case, semi-autonomous from the California Legislature, which is the political entity responsible, in most (i.e., non-UC) cases, for creating laws and overseeing governmental policies to make sure that people’s First Amendment rights are respected.

    So therefore, it’s not obvious, by any means, how that clause in Article 9 should be interpreted. As a governmental entity that is semi-autonomous from the legislature, there are very special considerations that come into play, not the least of which is the fact that a chancellor’s spouse, as a UC employee, is not just a typical employee, to be compared in every respect to an ordinary employee. The chancellor’s spouse is given a position, actually, precisely *because* he or she is the chancellor’s spouse, not because that person applied in a regular fashion and is being hired through the usual channels.

  24. Brian Riley

    @JustSaying: A little tip for you: Anonymous smears like what you’re attempting mean nothing, really. You are only bringing discredit to Krovoza in what you are doing. Get it? Catch a clue. And it is exceedingly obvious who you are, by the way.

  25. JustSaying

    Agreeing with ScottLay’s interpretation, rather than your evaluation, isn’t a “smear.” It’s just a disagreement.

    I’m sure Krovoza’s standing won’t be affected by my opinion with respect to your Katehi/spouse theory.

  26. Brian Riley

    @JustSaying: Again, your anonymous proclamations carry no weight, my friend. I am a PhD student majoring in higher education policy. Who are you?

    You are engaging in troll-like behavior. If you think you are helping Krovoza, think again. You are hindering him.

    You are also bringing discredit to David’s blog.

  27. JustSaying

    Aren’t we protesting a little too much here? We have individuals donating modest amounts in a very transparent way that gets fully reported by The Vanguard in a timely manner.

    An educated electorate gets to decide based on everything, including the donor lists. Ain’t that what we want?

    When corporations or large groups donate lots of money in ways that keep original sources secret, we should be outraged.

    On the other hand, we’re making a little too much of the current lists. While it’s fun to engage in some benign speculation over what these donations might mean about potential support, some of the charges are just unreasonable.

  28. medwoman


    [quote]I just don’t think that a donation from an employee’s superior, at a UC campus, to that employee’s political campaign comports with that clause of the California Constitution, Article IX, Section 9, paragraph (f). [/quote]

    I am genuinely curious about your position on this issue. I have no ulterior motive, and no knowledge of the law in this area, so this is a straight forward question about your position. Do you feel this way because this is a high profile married couple ( the Chancellor and her husband) or would you feel this way about any political contribution. For example, if I were a cafeteria worker at the university with children in the public school system, and I was running for a seat on the school board, would you consider it inappropriate if my supervisor’s spouse were to contribute to my campaign ?

  29. Growth Izzue

    Brian Riley
    [quote]@JustSaying: Again, your anonymous proclamations carry no weight, my friend. I am a PhD student majoring in higher education policy. Who are you?

    Brian, I always love it when someone has to throw out their credentials to try and make themselves seem more relevant. Nobody asked. So are you saying that your opinions count for more than others on this blog? If so, should your vote also count for more? Why are you asking Justsaying “Who are you” when you’ve already claimed you know who he/she is?

  30. Brian Riley

    @medwoman: I suppose in that case (the public schools or similar public institutions) it would depend on a person’s motives. In the example you use, I would imagine that there are no laws against doing that, so it would become a question of motivation and morality. If the person in your hypothetical scenario were acting out of counterproductive motives that involve taking unfair advantage of the boss/employee connection, then I would say it is immoral.

    Let’s suppose that the cafeteria worker and her boss and her boss’s spouse are all actually very close friends, and so the issue of the boss taking advantage of the worker doesn’t come into play. Then (assuming it’s not illegal) it would not be immoral, because everyone is aiming for the greater good.

    If that’s the case with Krovoza vis-à-vis Katehi and her husband, that is, if it’s the case that they are all very close friends aiming for the common good, and no one involved is attempting to exploit or take advantage of another person involved in the political triangle in question, then I’m willing to entertain the fact that the people involved have good motives.

    However, even if they have good motives (which is far from being demonstrated), that still doesn’t settle the issue of the Constitutionality of the issue. The University of California is a very special institution vis-à-vis the California Constitution. Also, the job obtained by the spouse of a chancellor is not an ordinary job. It is given *by virtue of the fact* of the spousal relationship. These two important facts combine together to put the propriety of Katehi’s husband’s donation in doubt.

    When Scott Lay made his comments yesterday, I’m pretty sure that he is not taking a comprehensive approach in his analysis in terms of the noting the special status of the University of California. If one wants to look at a recent court decision that shows how this factor comes into play, there was a recent decision where the court ruled in favor of a UCLA professor who was accused of violating a state law related to conflicts of interests when his wife was hired onto the UC payroll. The court ruled in the UCLA professor’s favor, as I understand it, *because* of the UC’s special status, and therefore the UC was not obliged to follow that same law in the way that would have normally (I take it) led to his prosecution.

    It goes in the other direction, too. If someone can get let off of a charge because of the University of California’s special status, they can also be *convicted* of a charge because of University of California’s special status, when a person in a similar situation who is not a UC employee might not be convicted.

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