Analysis: Where Does the Assembly Race Stand?

Dodd-IE-Bridge-2It is probably impossible to remember that as recently as three weeks ago this race seemed unusually quiet. Our article was dated May 8 and entitled “Union Independent Expenditures About to Shake Up Assembly Race.”

At that time, Dan Wolk was running third in money but performing strongly with endorsements on the eastern side of the district. Where they stand now is more difficult to assess after the Independent Expenditures hit.

The tally was more than $1 million in Independent Expenditures, almost all since the beginning of May.

A check at Cal-Access, the state website  on campaign financial information, revealed both sides have been pouring in tremendous amounts of money.

The Opportunity PAC, made up of various unions, which has been criticized by the Vanguard for making false attacks against Bill Dodd, has spent nearly $300,000 in opposition to Bill Dodd. It has another $185,000 in support of Dan Wolk.

The FairPAC, made up of conservative-leaning organizations, has expended $182,500 in support of Bill Dodd and another $172,500 in opposition to Dan Wolk.

The question is how effective are those mailers? We have only seen the one against Dan Wolk – the flip-flop mailer, filled with distortions and inaccuracies. We have seen at least six attacking Bill Dodd. There may be more on the western side of the district.

There have been two themes of attacks. The first that Bill Dodd took a pay raise and increased taxes – this first contention is accurate, although the pay raise was approved through a county ordinance linking supervisor pay to judges’ pay increases. The second is inaccurate, as he voted to impose a new tax that replaced an old tax at the same rate.

The second theme of the attacks is that Bill Dodd was responsible for the faulty bolts on the Bay Bridge – an absurd contention that was inaccurate. While he chaired the MTC (Metropolitan Transportation Commission), they had no authority over bolts and other materials – that was CalTrans’ call and CalTrans’ error.

Between media coverage and letters to the editor, those attacks have been debunked. The question is how many people read the media accounts versus how many saw the attack pieces through the daily bombardment of campaign literature.

This is a Democratic district, but the registration breakdown makes it at least interesting. The registration is 45.8 percent Democratic, 26.1 percent Republican and 25.7 percent Independent. In 2008, Obama won this district 64.8 to 32.2 over McCain.  Prop 8 failed 55-42.  Governor Brown won handily, 57-36 over Meg Whitman.

In terms of population, Napa and Yolo Counties are the two largest in the district, as those two counties remain most intact.  In terms of registration numbers, Napa County voters represent 30 percent of the registered voters, Yolo County represents 33 percent, then Lake at 15 percent, Sonoma at 14 percent, Solano only 7 percent and Colusa just 1 percent.

The top two candidates tomorrow will face off in November, regardless of their vote share.

Here’s how we see it:

Bill Dodd: We really see no scenario where Bill Dodd doesn’t finish in the top two and, really, most likely a distant first. He was the top fundraiser, and he cleaned up on endorsements in several of the western counties. A moderate Democrat, and a former Republican, he clearly takes advantage of the open primary because he can pick off both moderate Democrats and some Republicans.

A lot of the Republican money went toward him. And while he is at a disadvantage in the west, he did get key endorsements from Republican Supervisors Matt Rexroad and Duane Chamberlain.

We feel pretty safe in predicting he’ll be there in November.

Dan Wolk: We are going to put Dan Wolk by a nose over Charlie Schaupp. But it’s a very close call and if Bill Dodd can break 30%, we may well be wrong here depending on who shows up at the polls.

Dan Wolk has two real advantages in this race. First, he has the name recognition in the western part of the District. He really cleaned up on the endorsements in Yolo County, but unlike in previous elections, he has to split Yolo County with at least Joe Krovoza and that waters down his strength.

Even with that strength, he was going nowhere in this race – or so it appeared – until the unions kicked in the money. The big money came in the form of nearly half a million from the Opportunity PAC.

But he also got over $100 thousand from SEIU in Independent Expenditures, not to mention $35,000 from the California Professional Firefighters IE PAC. He made an interesting transformation during his time on the Davis City Council. In June 2011, he cast the deciding vote to reduce employee compensation by $2.5 million.

But since then he has been working hard to curry favor with the union – opposing fire staffing reduction, flipping on the shared management service with UC Davis after his mother, Senator Lois Wolk, co-signed a letter in opposition, but from our sources, it was his dressing down former City Manager Steve Pinkerton earlier this year that won him the support of fire.

Right now, we have Dan Wolk on the strength of that late money in second by a nose.

Charlie Schaupp: Charlie Schaupp is a veteran Republican campaigner. His money hasn’t come in, in part because of Bill Dodd. But he is listed as a Republican, and the only really legitimate Republican candidate. In a district that has 26% of voters as Republicans, if he polls about 25% of the vote, he could well finish in second. If he does, it’s a Dodd-Schaupp November race where the Democrats will line up behind Bill Dodd and give Mr. Dodd a comfortable win. A Dodd-Wolk match up will provoke another war of PACs and probably $2 million in Independent Expenditures.

Joe Krovoza: Joe Krovoza has run a solid, clean race. He has raised over $300,000. He has earned the endorsement of environmental groups as well as four key newspapers: Santa Rosa Press Democrat, Woodland Daily Democrat, Davis Enterprise, and the Sacramento Bee. The problem is that we don’t see his niche in this race. Bill Dodd will get most of the moderates and some Republicans, Dan Wolk will get mainstream Democrats who follow the party selection and support the unions.

Joe Krovoza’s legacy on the city council is fiscal discipline and he was instrumental in changing the way Davis’ City Council operates, particularly on the fiscal side. However, his mannerisms may have rubbed his colleagues the wrong way, as each of them endorsed Dan Wolk.

Joe Krovoza has managed to stay out of the fray, but part of the reason he did that is that neither the right nor the left saw him as a threat.

His best bet to carve out a niche is to build a coalition of environmental voters, voters who are ticked off by the negativity surrounding Bill Dodd and Dan Wolk, and those who respect his record as mayor. His campaign has focused on a grassroots effort and he believes they are flying below the radar.

While all of that is possible, we see him on the outside looking in and staring a fourth place finish in the face.

Dustin McCall: A lot of people believe that once Charlie Schaupp entered the race, someone put Mr. McCall up to running. He is a legislative staffer and a part-time student at UC Davis. He will finish a distant fifth.

So our view: Bill Dodd finishes first, it’s close to a toss-up between Dan Wolk and Charlie Schaupp so we’ll go with district leanings, Joe Krovoza finishes fourth and Dustin McCall finishes a distant fifth.

—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. Davis Progressive

    personally i think shaupp beats wolk. i decided to vote for krovoza, even though i think he abdicated his position as mayor and the whole thing cost davis a lot.

  2. Rich RifkinWDE 73

    “In June 2011, (Dan Wolk) cast the deciding vote to reduce employee compensation by $2.5 million.”

    LOL! David, that was a meaningless vote at the time and has proven to be entirely meaningless ever since. The only person in Davis who thought it would have some teeth was you, because it was essentially your idea and you were strongly advocating it. But nothing really came of it, despite their passing your resolution. The real decision in employee compensation is made in the labor contracts, and there, shortly after they voted for that resolution, they did nothing to control total compensation growth. They did make a meaningful cut in cafeteria cash-out, which will not really be realized until 2016, well after the general fund reserve is gone (unless Measure O passes). Otherwise, they failed to make a meaningful change in OPEB costs, which they certainly could have done through an imposed contract. And they made matters worse by increasing salaries, when salaries should have been reduced about 10% across the board in order to account for much higher pension funding costs, higher medical benefit costs, higher current OPEB costs, higher retiree medical premiums and higher costs to backfill underfunded pensions, all of which are components of total comp.

    1. Davis Progressive

      rich you miss his next sentence: “But since then he has been working hard to curry favor with the union…”

      so clearly david acknowledges that dan’s vote had no meaning, though it did temporarily piss off fire and employee groups. meaningless? meaningless enough that 150 employees came out to protest it. the real problem seems to be that navazio didn’t implement it and pinkerton was too wrapped up fixing the water mess to try when he came in. that’s my read.

      1. Rich RifkinWDE 73

        DP, I was not commenting just on the meaninglessness of Dan’s vote. I was trying to explain why the entire exercise of the City Council on that entire matter was meaningless from the start. It never could have worked. And it never did a thing.

        1. Davis Progressive

          and that’s fine. but that wasn’t really the point more that dan clearly lurched to appease the unions in the last year. is there disagreement there? look no further than his one true flip flop on the jpa

  3. Rich RifkinWDE 73

    “In a district that has 26% of voters as Republicans, if (Schaupp) polls about 25% of the vote, he could well finish in second.”

    Going in, I thought Charlie Schaupp was going to raise money, put together an effective campaign and win the Republican vote, which will likely be over 35% of the primary voters (counting registered Republicans and conservatives who are registered independent). However, Schaupp has done nothing to win this race. He has made his positions known in forums. But he raised no money and has sent out no advertising. It’s as if he is just another name on the ballot, albeit the only one who is conservative and has a Republican moniker.

    The only real hope for Schaupp to finish first or second is the fact that younger voters, and non-white voters tend to not show up for primaries, especially when the top of the ticket includes no competitive races and no presidential contest, while conservatives, older voters and whites tend to make up a disproportionate percentage of the total vote. The big question then is whether these possible Schaupp voters will at least partially break for Dodd.

    The irony is that if Schaupp finished second, that would help Dodd win in November. But if Wolk or Krovoza finishes second, it seems to me that Dodd will not be a favorite in November, facing a liberal Democrat. Knowing that, I think Schaupp’s financiers should have contributed $150,000 or so to Schaupp, just so Charlie could have gotten the conservative Republican vote. I know that would have suppressed Dodd’s total somewhat. But I think Dodd, due to his geographic advantage as the lone person from the western side of the district, still would have finished first or second.

    As to Krovoza, I think you might be underestimating him. It’s true that the big money pro-corruption Yamada Democrats–the nurses, teachers, the firefighters, the trade unions, prison guards, the trial lawyers, etc.–are all going to vote for Wolk. But Joe has a decent chance of winning the votes of better educated liberal Democrats. That is, environmentalists, university people, non-union professionals and those who read newspapers and are influenced by their endorsements. The case that Joe is much better qualified than his opponents can be made. … Still, I don’t think it is wrong of you to presume Joe will finish fourth. I would predict that too at this point. However, I think it is wrong to say is impossible for him to win a lot of votes from liberals, be they Democrats or independents, and if things break right he could finish in the top two. And if Joe were to face Dodd in the general, he would most likely win that.

    1. Charlie_Schaupp

      Rich…The past several months I have been reading your comments. On the eve of the election I will say that I only budget $20K for this campaign…and ended up spending just short of $15K. We had a mailer planned to highly ‘likely to vote’ key GOP voters…but since Dodd and Wolk stuffed the mail boxes with do much ‘muck raking’ and ‘pretty glossy 11x17s’ I decided it would not be effective or necessary. I also want you to realize that the IE’s fund groups that have come in behind Dodd and mostly Pro-GOP groups. Case in point—that is exactly why Matt Rexroad jumped in to support Dodd with 30 days until the election. Matt told me it wasn’t personal but he did not want Wolk in the Assembly. (I told him to ‘pound sand’ on his support of Dodd…one GOP to another GOP…If you get my drift). Basically, they (he) did not want Wolk in a fall election with me…They (he) wanted Dodd. Now honestly, I realize that if the fall election is between Dodd and myself…I have a very ‘hard row to hoe’ indeed. Those IE’s groups now have a huge investment in Dodd and likely will stick by that investment. However it will be a different game if Wolk or Krovoza top two (and I make it). It is also a very real possibility that I will place out of the ‘Top Two’ —when you compare my $15K spending to over $2 Milllion + by the Democrat Candidates and the IE’s. But never the less we will know in about 36 hours. But my plan/budget is just about where I planned it…Thought you should know sense you thought I would run a bigger ‘spendier’ campaign. It was never planned that way and I hope not necessary. Semper Fi, Charlie Schaupp

      1. Rich RifkinWDE 73

        Charlie, thanks for the explanation.

        However, I never expected in advance–back when I wrote in my Davis Enterprise column that you should finish in first place in the primary–that you were limiting your expenses to $20,000. (“On the eve of the election I will say that I only budgeted $20K for this campaign.”)


        I fully respect your motives in not wanting to beg for money from your friends and associates. That’s a major reason I would never run for office. However, since you are running, and you are the only real conservative in the race, and (although they are a minority in our region) there are probably many other conservatives in California who like you as the standard-bearer of the conservative cause in this race, I think you could have raised quite a bit more money than $15,000. Heck, some candidates for the Davis City Council, who are limited to $100 contributions, often will raise $35,000 or more.

        I know it would still be impossible to keep up with the IE money being poured in. But I would imagine you could have, for example, cheaply produced a cable TV ad and aired it on several cable systems across AD4, essentially saying, “I’m Charlie Schaupp. I’m a conservative, a Republican, a farmer, and a retired Marine Corps officer, and I am running for the Assembly in District 4. If you want a conservative to represent you in the Capitol, please vote for Charlie Schaupp for the Assembly. Semper Fi!”

        Anyhow, good luck tomorrow, and thanks for cluing me in on your thinking on money in this race.

        1. Charlie_Schaupp

          Rich…The real race would be in the Fall for a GOP candidate in this district. And you are right. I don’t want to ask for funds until the real fight begins. If I top two…Game On. But had I spent 50K or 100K now…the out come tomorrow would likely be the same with all that IE money being spent… and I need to keep ‘my powder dry’ for the real contest. We will just have to wait and see. Semper Fi, Charlie

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