Will Bill Dodd Run For State Senate?

Bill Dodd celebrates victory in November
Bill Dodd celebrates victory in November

On Wednesday, first-term Assemblymember Bill Dodd told the Vanguard that he was not ready to make an announcement yet as to whether he will run for a Senate seat that will be vacant due to the terming out of two-time State Senator Lois Wolk.

He told the Vanguard that he was working hard to meet with key stakeholders in the district and “very excited” about the prospect of running. However, he is not there yet. He said he will make a firm decision within 30 days.

Bill Dodd’s potential candidacy sets up an intriguing match up between Bill Dodd, a first-term Assemblymember from Napa who in the last few years changed party registration from Republican to Democrat, and three-time Democratic Assemblymember Mariko Yamada, who was termed out in 2014 and has since the fall been campaigning hard for the Senate seat.

She told the Vanguard on Tuesday that she is working hard and expects a strong challenge for the seat.

Her campaign announced it had secured the endorsement of the California Nurses Association, which she said was also an earlier supporter of her 2008 campaign – where she surprised many by defeating West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon.

“Mariko Yamada is, and always has been, a leading advocate for health, labor and nurses. That’s why we’re proud to support her campaign for State Senate – because we need leaders like Mariko in our State Legislature,” said Malinda Markowitz, Co-President of the California Nurses Association.

If Mr. Dodd does decide to run, this will be a tough battle that has many observers a bit surprised that a first-term Assemblymember would give up a safe seat for a race that may be a coin flip at best.

Mariko Yamada already has some key endorsements, including Congressman John Garamendi, who represents much of the district in Congress. State Controller Betty Yee, State Treasurer John Chiang, Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, former Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, and former Secretary of State Bill Lockyer are among many early supporters of Ms. Yamada.

Ms. Yamada also has some strong local support, including retired Supervisor Betsy Marchand, current supervisor Jim Provenza, Sheriff Ed Prieto, and Yolo County Superintendent of Schools Jesse Ortiz.

In her press release announcing the nurses’ endorsement, Ms. Yamada stated, “I am truly honored by this early endorsement from California’s nurses. I will always advocate for the highest quality patient care for all Californians, a goal that nurses on the front lines fight for every day.”

Yamada continued, “With a fast growing population of seniors who will need nursing care, it’s more important now than ever that we stand with our nurses to make sure they have the training, resources and support they need to do their very difficult jobs. I’m very proud of this endorsement and look forward to working with California’s nurses to make real progress for California’s families.”

Last year, Bill Dodd was able finish first in a contested primary where two Davis Democrats, then-Mayor Joe Krovoza and now-Mayor Dan Wolk, split the vote enough in the eastern portion of the district to allow Bill Dodd and Republican Charlie Schaupp to finish 1-2. Dan Wolk finished a close third, but was not able to beat Mr. Schaupp for second.

In the meantime, in 2008, Mariko Yamada then a county supervisor, stunned many by defeating heavy favorite West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon. That campaign featured a battle between the Sacramento Central Labor Council and Edvoice, a nonprofit grassroots network of parents and educators opposed to the teachers’ unions and which pumped in money and campaign workers against the independent expenditure campaign.

In 2014, the unions would come with money but not huge amounts of volunteers for Dan Wolk. Bill Dodd was able to, through the help of third party expenditures, match the union spending spree that made questionable attacks on Mr. Dodd.

In addition to the intriguing match up between the current Assemblymember and the past Assemblymember, Bill Dodd’s potential entry sets up another interesting development for Davis politics.

Mayor Dan Wolk finished third in last year’s race, but an open Assembly seat gives him a second chance at the legislature just as his mother, Senator Lois Wolk, is termed out. Once Mr. Dodd announces his intentions, it could set off a series of dominoes.

Observers expect that Mr. Wolk would have to face another candidate from the Napa area that can match the eastern portion of the district in terms of money and voters.

Meanwhile, in Davis, Mr. Wolk’s departure would open up a council seat that could be the key for who controls the Davis City Council.

Stay tuned, as Bill Dodd’s decision in the next thirty days is likely to have far-reaching impacts on the State Assembly and the Davis City Council races.

—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

    the bigger issue is this means that dan wolk most likely runs for assembly which gets him off the council and this time he doesn’t get a free run.

    1. Gunrocik

      In the long run that is great.  In the short run, Craig Reynolds/Dirk Brazil will be increasing the number of issues the Council brings forward solely to build up Dan’s very short list of legislative accomplishments.  Now that sugary beverages have been slayed, I could see fluoridation back in the headlines, after school swim programs and a bevy of other initiatives to serve the few kids left in town whose parents didn’t move to Woodland or Dixon in order to buy a house.

  2. Sulla

    ”  . . . former Secretary of State Bill Lockyer . . .”  ????  Bill  Lockyer has held many public offices since first elected to the San Leandro School Board in 1968, but he has never served as Secretary of State.  Is the error yours, or was it in Mariko Yamada’s press release?

    1. Gunrocik

      Give Lockyer time, he is only 74  — and he may not like working in private law practice.  If Padilla decides to run for Governor he could be Secretary of State someday!

  3. Sulla

    Apologies accepted—- seriously, if  Bill Dodd  runs for the state senate, with the new “jungle primary” he would almost certainly finish first or second, and be favored to win in November.  And  if  Dan Wolk  runs for the open Assembly seat instead of re-election to the city council,  then which member of  the School Board can we expect to run for the open council seat?

    1. Matt Williams

      And if Dan Wolk runs for the open Assembly seat instead of re-election to the city council, then which member of the School Board can we expect to run for the open council seat?

      Interesting question. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if the answer to that question is “none”

      Four of the five are in the middle of their first term, so they would be running for Council with some of the same overtones that Dan Wolk endured in his Assembly campaign. The fifth member, Susan Lovenburg would appear to be the one with the highest likelihood.

      Past School Board members would seem to be better bets.

      1. hpierce

        We’ve been lucky a little much less than half the time when DJUSD Board members have become CC or BOS members.  Can’t think of a single current member of the board that I’d want to see on the CC.  Given recent events, even more so.

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