A race that has been described as “fluid” and “wide-open” got another interesting jolt on Monday as the Sacramento Bee endorsed two of the three Democrats for the race. With the primary rules favoring the top two vote getters regardless of party, the Bee endorsed Davis Mayor Joe Krovoza and Napa County Supervisor Bill Dodd.
They write, “The dynamic in the 4th Assembly District, traditionally a seat held by a Davis Democrat, has changed dramatically. Between redistricting and the top-two primary, the race to replace termed-out Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada, a Davis Democrat, is wide open.”
“Napa County now is in the 4th District, and Davis no longer may have a stranglehold on the seat. Yolo County has 32 percent of the registered voters; Napa County has 29 percent. Lake County and parts of Sonoma, Solano and Colusa counties also are in the district,” they continue. “In the June primary, we recommend Davis Mayor Joe Krovoza, a Democrat, and Napa County Supervisor Bill Dodd, a former Republican who became a Democrat in 2012.”
On Joe Krovoza, they write that he “would hit the ground running as a leader in the Assembly on land-use planning and community development, as well as on vexing environmental issues from climate change to water. He has worked for 17 years developing clean transportation and energy-efficient projects at UC Davis. As a supporter of high-speed rail, Krovoza has good ideas for feeder systems and placement of stations.”
The Bee adds, “Krovoza led negotiations for the historic Putah Creek Accord in 2000 that established water flows that restored the creek’s historic salmon run.”
“In his tenure on the Davis City Council and as mayor, he helped lead the city through a difficult period of $11 million in spending cuts, restructuring of city labor contracts including changes in employee benefits, and dramatic reductions in fire service costs by launching a partnership with UC Davis. He also has been a proponent of shared services through public-private partnerships. He would bring that eye for fiscal stability to the Legislature.”
On the other hand, the Bee said, “We have disagreed with Krovoza on some matters.”
They cite the Cannery Project.
The Bee writes, “After negotiating a good deal on the 100-acre Cannery Park proposal for 456 housing units and commercial development, Krovoza was one of two no votes on the project. He pushed the envelope to get additional assurances from the developer on bike connectivity at the southwest corner. When he didn’t get his way, he voted against a good project. Some would call this tenacity; others would call it bullheadedness.”
On Bill Dodd, “A four-term supervisor from Napa County, Dodd owned Culligan Water franchises in four North Bay counties, turning to public service after he sold the company. He refers to himself as a “transportation geek” who has spent years working on Bay Area long-range transportation planning. He is well-informed on sprawl, traffic gridlock, transit services and public-private partnerships. He championed a road tax in Napa County.”
“Dodd’s most intriguing feature is his party switch,” the Bee continues. “Republican activists denounce him for opportunism; Democrats don’t quite trust him. Dodd shrugs that off, saying that his values had been Democratic for more than a decade – from immigration reform on the national level to support for a drug and rehabilitation center at the local level.”
They write, “He says the tipping point in his decision to switch parties was the debate over gay marriage and marriage equality.”
He believes he can be “part of a new wave of leadership to change the political climate” in California. “Moderates can make a difference.”
Two other strong candidates are in the race, the Bee notes.
“Dan Wolk is a water and public finance attorney for Solano County, a Davis city councilman and son of Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis,” they write. “He would make education his top priority. Although Wolk has shown himself to be open-minded and has worked to bring people together in his three years on the council, he speaks in generalities on legislative issues.”
They note, “Charlie Schaupp, well-known in Republican circles for two congressional primary runs in the 1990s, is a fourth-generation member of a Yolo County farming family, a retired Marine reserve officer who served in the Persian Gulf War and a former Esparto school board member. He has an appealing anti-corruption, ethics message.”
Dustin Call, a legislative aide for Assemblyman Curt Hagman, R-Chino Hills, and a part-time UC Davis student, did not interview with the editorial board.
The Bee concludes, “We recommend Krovoza and Dodd.”
Throughout the years, the Bee has made some quirky choices in its endorsements. For the most part, we have not seen that the Bee has had a huge impact on races.
As we noted earlier, the Krovoza campaign also points out, as we did, the real downside of Bill Dodd’s campaign. They write, “Dodd’s potential in this race is highly questionable because… Bill Dodd is in political ‘No Man’s Land’ as a registered Democrat.” They argue, “When non-Republicans hear about Dodd’s past as a longtime registered Republican and the sources of his funding for this campaign, better than four-in-five have doubts about voting for him.”
The Vanguard made this point as well, noting that Bill Dodd himself said that he is often not Democratic enough for Democrats but too Democratic for Republicans in rural areas, who will undoubtedly flock to the nominal Republicans even though for the most part that Republican lacks the funding to make this a real race.
However, we still hold with our initial analysis.
The Vanguard believes that Bill Dodd has sizable advantages in terms of both money and breadth of support that puts him into the frontrunner class.
Dan Wolk’s strength rests with his broad base of support among elected officials in Yolo County and also his wide support from unions and the Democratic Party. Playing against that advantage is the fact that Dan Wolk sits at a distant third with a mere $83,560.
Political observers across the campaign have told the Vanguard that they continue to be surprised that Dan Wolk does not have more money. There seems to be an expectation that at some point there will be a surge, but to date that has not happened.
However, the long list of union supporters could translate either into independent expenditure campaigns or campaign workers. For us, that is the key wild card. We have seen evidence that some of the political action committees for unions supporting Dan Wolk are about to activate. If that happens, we get an interesting battle between the soft money of the unions and the hard money of Bill Dodd.
Given that this is a battle to get into November, how that will play out and how it will differ from 2008 will be interesting to monitor.
—David M. Greenwald reporting