Election Digest: Wolk Campaign Fires First Shot in Assembly Race

Wolk-Assembly-AnnounceEditor’s Note: This is a new feature we will be utilizing more as the campaign season rolls closer.  It is a collection of smaller announcements and stories from the various campaigns. Lily Shen, a UC Davis Student and former Court Watch Intern, is our Election Coordinator.  Henry Qi, a UC Davis Student is assisting as well.

Campaign Missive From Wolk Campaign Manager Ties Dodd Campaign to Wal-Mart

(Editor’s note: the following email was sent out on Saturday by Dan Wolk Campaign Manager Will Arnold)


It’s on.

In the race for the 4th Assembly District, major right-wing donors are lining up to support “former” Republican Bill Dodd.

Campaign finance reports show that former Republican and Supervisor Dodd took nearly $115,000 in contributions from just 14 individuals in the waning days of 2013. They include former Schwarzenegger advisor and anti-Labor activist David Crane, and Walmart heirs Gregory Penner and Carrie Walton Penner. Dodd has not yet filed a full finance report; he is required to do so by the end of the month.

Why are major right-wing donors contributing to Bill Dodd’s campaign? Has Bill Dodd truly changed his beliefs when he converted from a Republican to a Democrat or is he merely hoping to fool the Democratic voters of the 4th Assembly District?

Dodd was a lifetime Republican until last year and didn’t change his registration until just before announcing his run for Assembly in a heavily Democratic district. In 2012, Dodd even publicly endorsed a Republican for the 4th Assembly District, the seat he is now seeking!

Will you help spread the word about Bill Dodd’s right-wing support today by forwarding this email to your friends, family and neighbors?

The group of conservative donors who have given to Dodd have also given over $1.7 million to Republican candidates and right-wing causes, according to state and federal campaign finance reports. That includes over $100,000 to the Republican National Committee, over $90,000 to each Meg Whitman and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s campaigns for Governor, as well as significant contributions to the Romney, McCain-Palin and Bush-Cheney campaigns.

David Crane, who raised much of this money on Dodd’s behalf, has pledged to back only candidates who support his anti-Labor, pro-charter school agenda, has “found a candidate” in Dodd, according to the Sacramento Bee. Crane has called for the elimination of collective bargaining rights for Public Sector workers – taking a page right out of the playbook of Tea Party leaders, like Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and the Koch Brothers.

That’s why we need your help to get the word out about Dodd’s Republican connections.

Help us spread the word. Forward this e-mail to everyone you know.

Let’s keep “former” Republican Bill Dodd from taking away our voice in Sacramento.

Thanks for everything you do.


Will Arnold
Campaign Manager
Dan Wolk for Assembly


Dan Wolk Biography

Wolk grew up in Davis and went to Davis public schools. Then, he attended Stanford University and moved on to law school at UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall.

He has served on the Davis City Council since 2011. Then, he was voted in to be on the council again in 2012 with more votes than any other candidate in Davis’ history. He has focused on adopting the surface water project, seeking greater investment for city roads and bike paths, and looking into sustainable energy initiatives.

Wolk is also Deputy County Counsel for Solano County, in which he is in charge of public finance, public contracting, and water issues. He founded the Legal Clinic of Yolo County, which assists low-income families.

For more information about his campaign, you can visit: www.danwolk.org

—Compiled by Henry Qi and Lily Shen

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. SODA

    Yes, I did remember that 🙂
    but not everyone might……..especially since the font size is different between Wolk and Swanson…..
    and to the second comment, who put in the ‘offered a job…..”

  2. Abigail

    I was forwarded that email from Dan’s campaign manager. It did not include a bio of Dan (and definitely not of Rochelle). I knew Bill Dodd had been a Republican (from his Vanguard interview and other comments), but I was surprised to learn how he is embracing his conservative roots. What was the point of switching parties if he’s still funded by GOP donors?

    Regarding Rochelle, I took a look at her website. There is a longer bio at http://www.rochellefordavis.org/bio. It says there that she has accepted the job this article says she was offered. I think her career is pretty impressive and, as a working mom myself, I find it empowering that she doesn’t shy away from mentioning her work life. All the boys on the Council have full-time jobs, there’s no reason she shouldn’t!

    1. Mr. Toad

      Dodd and the Republicans are gaming the new top two election system. Supporting that contention is the fact that there are no Republicans running for the seat but the usual Republican donors are supporting him financially.

        1. Mr. Toad

          Because a Republican can’t win. It would be interesting to look at his voting record as Napa Supervisor to evaluate how out of sync he has been with his Grand Old Party.

    2. Tia Will

      Perhpas the point of switching parties would be for the perceived benefit of having a D instead of an R by one’s name in a district perceived to be heavily Democratic ? Or perhpas that is just my cynical side coming out ?

  3. iPad Guy

    Suggestion: use “ELECTION DIGEST” as the headline for this recurring feature. Use the art on the front summary page as the art for the article. Then use the same type (not some all caps and others upper & lower case) for sub heads for each of the stories. Maybe this would help lessen the confusion about “Campaign Digest.”

  4. Davis Progressive

    Now to the core issue…

    Interesting missive. First, the first shot fired, done by a campaign manager in an email was taken at Bill Dodd not at Joe Krovoza. That suggests that the campaign sees Dodd, not Krovoza as their chief rival.

    Second, they take the shot that Dodd is a closet Republican. It’s an interesting strategy because it might actually help Dodd with Republican voters – I think it was reported earlier that’s 30% of the vote in the Assembly District.

    Third, that leads us to wonder, if Dodd is the chief rival, why take a shot at him which might help him get to the general election.

    Finally, why take a shot at all, it’s hard to imagine that Wolk would not finish in the top two. Unless this signals Wolk is fearful of their standing and needs to improve among Democrats, but in a four person race throwing mud at one might lead people to go away with both.

    Just curious decision, and because he signed it Campaign Manager, this was approved by Dan and Craig.

    1. iPad Guy

      I don’t understand why Wolk’s first campaign communication is an attack about how someone has had a Democratic epiphany. Shouldn’t he be sending Dodd a congratulations card? Also, the guilt-by-association (twice removed) approach suggests commitment to a campaign strategy of nastiness. “It’s on,” indeed.

      1. Abigail

        This was certainly not Dan Wolk’s “first campaign communication”. Maybe you’re just not on the campaign email list, or haven’t seen any of the press releases. There’s been a lot of communication.

        1. iPad Guy

          Thanks for correcting my impression that this attack was the first shot of Wolk’s campaign against Dodd. Still, it doesn’t bode well for the tone of the campaign.

    2. Alan Miller

      I think either Davis candidate attacking the other would be seen as pretty distasteful to a lot of Davis voters, and I doubt it will happen as it will almost certainly backfire.

      1. Mark West

        I find this sort of attack distasteful (and completely unnecessary) regardless of who is being attacked. I am disappointed by this as I was expecting something better from Dan and his campaign.

        1. SouthofDavis

          What do you mean by “this sort of attack”?

          Is it OK in your book to say “anything” about an opponent’s past?

          Or is it just pointing out that he was a “Republican” that you find so distasteful?

        2. Mr. Toad

          Oh the horror! Come on, pointing out where his opponents money is coming from should be fair game. Why do you think they make you report it?

          i guess you would prefer a more Citizens United approach where unlimited untraceable money gets spent but its somehow wrong to point out when someone gets 14 donations averaging over $8000. Give me a break. Politics ain’t beanbag.

          1. Mark West

            If you have good ideas to talk about then there really is no reason to attack your opponent in any way.

            When a candidate starts complaining about the source of his opponents funding, then I assume he has nothing of value to say.

            I expected more from Dan.

          2. Mr. Toad

            When your opponent raises over $100,000 from just fourteen people its news. Who they are and why they gave it becomes relevant. Its a lot of money. If you think its all going to be spent on positive election communications then you really have no idea what’s coming.

            People on this site have been all bent out of shape with Firefighters bundling $100 donations and the influence it could buy. That’s nothing compared to this money. People on here have complained that the unions gave Mariko Yamada money and have claimed some nasty things about her such as being a tool of the unions. Now when 14 people donate over $100,000 to a Republican who recently turned Democrat commenters argue its dirty politics for the Wolk campaign to make Bill Dodd’s political history and funders an issue. The double standard is truly astounding!

          3. Mark West


            In my case there is no double standard. I voted for Dan, and have had every expectation of doing so again. I expected him to campaign on his record and his ideas, and the more he looks and sounds like a ‘typical’ politician, the less likely I am to continue to support him.

          4. Mark West

            What gunfight are you referring to Toad? Did Bill Dodd attack Dan or try to smear him by association? If Dan had been attacked similarly by his opponent, then you may have a point. Near as I can tell, this looks like a preemptive strike, which would put the responsibility entirely on Dan and his campaign.

          5. Rich Rifkin

            Toad, the problem with all big money going to candidates is when the donors want something more costly in return. That is why our state is in such dire straits fiscally. The unions pay the campaign bills for the Democrats, then those who get elected (like Mariko) give the donors millions of our dollars in return. It’s a horribly corrupt system.

            Republicans are no better in this respect. The one important difference is that Republicans have no power in California. Liberal Democrats, bought and paid for by the CTA and the other public employees and the trade unions, hold all the powerful positions.

          6. Tia Will

            A question for clarification Mark. Do you feel that it is never a legitimate tactic to point out the source of a candidates funding ?
            For example, is it mud slinging to point out that a candidate for city council accepted funding from local firefighters ?

            I actually do not see this as “mud slinging” as long as the statement is true. “Mud slinging” to me is what Parish attempted to do in his campaign, taking statements that were mere associations such as having worked in the same office and trying to twist them into some kind of nefarious activity. That is not what we are seeing here. I do not see that Dan or his campaign have made any kind of ethical lapse.

          7. Mark West


            I didn’t call it mudslinging, that is your term. I said it was an unnecessary attack, and ‘smear by association.’ If it was unprovoked (by some similar attack), then I presume that the candidate believes that they cannot win based on their own ideas and record.

            I’m not naive. Negative campaigning works (unfortunately) but in my experience the candidate that does it first is the one that is most desperate. I expected more from Dan.

    3. Rich Rifkin

      “That suggests that the campaign sees Dodd, not Krovoza as their chief rival.”

      That’s possible. I have not seen any polls, yet.

      However, I think Wolk’s unspoken message is: “I am the true liberal Democrat in this race, unlike my opponents, who are all impostors.”

      By launching an attack against Dodd’s supposed conservative nature, most Democrats, Wolk hopes, will conclude that Wolk is the kind of fighter they want to represent them, someone who will “tell it like it is.” The point is not just to downgrade Dodd. The point is also to make yourself appear to be championing the people’s cause.

      What the liberal voters will notice, Wolk believes, is that Joe Krovoza and Matt Pope are not out there “fighting for the people” and “attacking those evil Republicans” the way Wolk is. Wolk likely hopes liberal Democrats (like Toad, perhaps) will be attracted to the one true liberal, Dan Wolk, in the race, as a result of this attack.

  5. SouthofDavis

    Abagail wrote:

    > What was the point of switching parties if he’s still funded by GOP donors?

    It is a waste of time to run as a “Republican” in an increasing number of California “blue” counties so you just run as a “Conservative Democrat” (just like many sitting Congressmen from the south have changed from “Conservative Democrat” to “Open Minded Republican” to stay in office when their districts got more “red”).

    1. hpierce

      Y’all may want to be mindful of the independents/decline to state. Last time I saw figures, we’re over 15%, and the fastest growing “party” in California, particularly in this district. Many are completely fed up with the vocal/powerful far ends of the major parties.

  6. Davis '88

    This is a very disappointing sign from Wolk’s campaign. I was planning on volunteering for Dan but not if this is the tone of his campaign. It seems pretty desperate.

    1. Mr. Toad

      I don’t think its desperate. Its more like the Wolk campaign wants to define Bill Dodd in the voters minds before he has a chance to spend his hundreds of thousands introducing himself through a slick marketing campaign run by some advertising agency. Its a pretty standard campaign move and all this hand wringing about it is a little pathetic. But its to be expected on a site where most of the commenters are conservatives. Just look at the low brow remark of Davisite 2 below. Is this all you got? Calling him a mama’s boy? Last time I checked Lois was a popular state senator.

      1. David Greenwald

        “Its more like the Wolk campaign wants to define Bill Dodd in the voters minds”

        But that’s the point, right? The only reason he needs to define Bill Dodd, is if the campaign finds Bill Dodd an electoral threat.

        1. Mr. Toad

          Duh David. But what about the people of this Assembly District. Shouldn’t they know that this guy from Napa was until recently a Republican who supported Bush and John Munn? Shouldn’t they know he takes money in the 4 or 5 figure range from Walmart heirs? People on here get all worked up about union support for candidates but Walmart money is O.K.? Talk about being anti-union! And why isn’t a person’s political history relevant. People sure want to remind us that Dan is Lois’ son yet its somehow too low to bring up a person’s 2012 party affiliation.

  7. Davisite2

    …… this appears to have Craig Reynold’s fingerprints all over it and again raises the specter of him being a political neophyte, managed by his mother’s political staff.

    1. Tia Will

      Most, if not all of the relatively inexperienced candidates that I have known have sought guidance from folks who have run previous successful political campaigns. I fail to see how accepting help from those in close association with your politically successful family member differs from accepting help from a campaign manager that you worked with on a previously successful campaign for a different candidate, or help or endorsement from a like minded elected official. Were any of you actually thinking that Dan should not accept help from his mother and or her acquaintances. Do we not expect a candidate to use the resources available to them in their campaign ?

      To me, the very idea that it is somehow wrong, weak or unethical for Dan to accept advice from his close circle while others can rely on their close networks, or “outside” money is a bit absurd.

  8. Margaret Olson


    So Bill Dodd should not take $ from pro-business democrats, but it is ok for you to support the devil-himself — Dick Cheney. How can you proudly stand along a man that instigated an unnecessary war that sent thousands of our young men and women to die? How can you smile with someone who was instrumental in torturing and detaining innocents for years? How can you support a man who got rich off of war and oil through Halliburton?

    WHY are you promoting this on YOUR facebook page???


    You should be ashamed of yourself.

      1. Rich Rifkin

        A bit off topic, but … Will Arnold’s mother, Martie (or Martha), was my Spanish teacher at Davis High in the 9th Grade in 1978-79. She was then pregnant with Will. She left our class mid-term to have the baby.

    1. Will

      Thank you, Margaret, for the eloquent description of Dick Cheney and his horrific legacy.

      I agree wholeheartedly that Dick Cheney is absolutely terrible. And, of course, his terribleness didn’t start with the Iraq War (his vote not to have MLK Day be a national holiday is an earlier example of why he is a pox on society).

      Fast forward to 2012, where he was the keynote speaker at an event I was invited to attend. Other speakers were Ariana Huffington, Vicente Fox, and Howie Long, all of whom I took pictures with. I decided I couldn’t pass up this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get my picture taken next to the national tragedy that is Dick Cheney. So I stood next to the man for less than 30 seconds and lived to tell the tale.

      Does this mean I support him, like him, or even could tolerate him for more than a flash? Of course not. But I hope you are smart enough, savvy enough, with enough sense of humor to appreciate a moment of pure irony.

      1. Mr. Toad

        But Will did you fund raise for him? Did you go around and collect $100,000 from his rich friends whose companies like Walmart have the worst labor records in the country?

      2. Davis '88

        Maybe Bill Dodd is being ironic in taking money from pro-business folks while supporting raising minimum wage to $12 ??? I spoke with Bill about raising min wages at the YDCP candidate event, which he said will be one of his priorities.

        Regardless, I would never stand next to Cheney. It certainly says a lot about you.

  9. Rich Rifkin

    David Greenwald: This piece is really not well done or well researched by The Vanguard. It fails to ask basic questions of the Will Arnold letter. For example, Will attacks David Crane because he was “an advisor to Gov. Schwarzenegger.” But shouldn’t the Vanguard at least told its readers why liberal union Democrats hate David Crane? What is it that he exposed in our system which caused the teachers union to drum David Crane out of government?

    You’d never know from this hack job that David Crane famously reported that our pension systems for public employees–run by the unions–were not being funded properly. Here is a brief account of that from Wikipedia:

    “Crane has written extensively and been cited often on the subjects of government accounting, pension funding, government finance and investment policies, political reform and state governance. In 2006 the California Legislature removed him from the board of the California State Teachers Retirement System after he questioned the system’s reporting of pension liabilities and assumptions about future investment earnings [1]. In 2011 his term as a UC Regent was allowed to lapse without confirmation by the California Legislature after he expressed concerns that state funding of higher education was jeopardized in part by the failure to properly account for and pre-fund public employee pensions [2] [3].”

    Ironically, what the CTA did to David Crane is what you have said the Davis firefighters have done to you: For standing up and speaking the truth, you have been tarred by the Will Arnold types as some sort of right-wing shill. When in reality, the really bad actors in all of this have been the greedy union leaders.

  10. David Greenwald

    “This piece is really not well done or well researched by The Vanguard. It fails to ask basic questions of the Will Arnold letter.”

    That’s because you misinterpret what the Election Digest is and should be about. This is a space where we simply reprint campaign materials without editorial comment. It is meant to be unfiltered.

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