Source: Dodd to Run For Senate; Wolk for Assembly


A high level source close to one of the campaigns told the Vanguard on Tuesday that Bill Dodd is definitely running for Senate and Dan Wolk is definitely running for Assembly. Both are working hard to line up support.

Bill Dodd, however, told the Vanguard on Tuesday afternoon that no final decision has been made. Back in June 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 was not there yet. He said in June that he would make a firm decision within 30 days.

While Mr. Dodd has not formally announced, it appears to be all but a done deal. The Vanguard received a flyer for an event, urging the public to join a group of public officials and former public officials “as we announce our support for 2016’s District 3 State Senator: Assemblyman Bill Dodd.” The event is scheduled at the Eagle Vines Vineyard on July 20 in American Canyon.


Bill Dodd will presumably officially announce sometime before the event. He has lined up some formidable support including Congressmen Mike Thompson, Jared Huffman and Mark DeSaulnier. Also supporting him are current State Senator Lois Wolk, who is being termed out, and a number of Assemblymembers including former Assemblymember Helen Thomson.

Bill Dodd’s potential candidacy sets up an intriguing matchup 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 in June 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.

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 the meantime, Mr. Dodd’s move to the Senate opens the Assembly seat for Davis Mayor Dan Wolk, who is said to be running for sure. The source told the Vanguard that he is all geared up to run, but won’t make any formal announcement prior to Mr. Dodd’s announcement.

Davis Mayor Dan Wolk at the Council Meeting on Tuesday
Davis Mayor Dan Wolk at the council meeting on Tuesday

Mayor 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.

A wild card for the Assembly is two-time Yolo County Supervisor Don Saylor, a former Mayor of Davis. The source told us that they do not expect that Don Saylor would challenge Dan Wolk. They have similar constituencies and Mr. Wolk would appear the more formidable candidate.

Council-July715-2Nevertheless, the Vanguard has learned that Mr. Saylor reached out to the Davis City Council for individual endorsements, but to our knowledge he has yet to receive one.

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.

Stay tuned, as Bill Dodd’s decision in the next 30 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.

Related posts


  1. SODA

    Yes watching last night, Bill Dodd’s self promotion thinly veiled as an ‘update’ mentioning joint efforts with Lois Wolk at least 3 times during public comment certainly is in line with your report.

    I hope if Dan runs the DV will have some objective reporting of his leadership as mayor which in my opinion has been less than impressive. Scanning your article about the sports discussion show no comments from him and this was his idea!d

  2. TrueBlueDevil

    Given this, does Wolk’s proposed sports complex appease or assist some power brokers in the area, or did it earn him kudos from the sports / youth communities?

      1. SODA

        Yes he introduced the concept, in a way brought out all the sports folks to lobby then backed down somewhat last night. Not sure what he expected fr his colleagues.

        As usual I was impressed with Robb’s prep and thoughtful discussion and Brett steered outcome practically.

  3. Frankly

    I hate to get too critical of Mayor Dan because he is a nice and friendly guy from a great family and with a great family.   He is plenty smart enough for politics.

    I recently hired a young man who has family in the Philippines that are politicians and his father wanted him to run for politics in the Philippines after running his father’s business… instead he ran back to the US.   We were talking about his choice and how politics and leadership to get substantive things done are disconnected.   Getting substantive things done always means pissing off some people.  You can never make everyone happy, but you can mitigate the risk of having a large number of people unhappy by surfing the middle ground and picking battles carefully.  But surfing the middle ground is not leadership, it is politics.

    I think Mayor Dan was always pursuing a role as a politician.  And while I like him as a person, and see him as smart enough and capable enough to be elected, my criticism is really that he has not demonstrated the level of leadership for what I consider to be the right things for Davis that would result in pissing off some people.  It seems that all the things he took a leadership role on where calculated safe moves to keep his base happy.  It almost seems like there is a well oiled group of advisors behind him making sure he does not step into anything hurting his chances for the next political move.

    Maybe the State Assembly job will allow him to stretch a bit more in getting some good substantive things done.

    1. Barack Palin

      Maybe the State Assembly job will allow him to stretch a bit more in getting some good substantive things done.

      Like making a tuna sandwich the default in a kid’s meal instead of a burger?

  4. Don Shor

    I’ll be happy to see Dan Wolk run for Assembly and will certainly give him due consideration for my vote. Very likely I’ll vote for him. I am concerned that running for Assembly takes a lot of hours, the council is supposed to be a 30 hour a week job more or less, and I wonder if the city will get his full commitment as he seeks higher office. There’s a lot to be done right now, and I’d hate to see everything slow down in 2016 because of elections.

      1. hpierce

        Think Don is commenting on the interim… during the campaign for office.  Dan has a full-time (public) job, plus the CC gig, and adding campaigning to that, and still being available to his young family, looks like something will suffer.  Hopefully, not the family.

        Don, am not trying to put words in your mouth.  Would be rude and unsanitary.

        1. Don Shor

          That’s exactly it. We’ve just been through this when Joe and Dan were running. Again, I don’t doubt Dan’s commitment to doing what he was elected to do. I just think something’s got to give when you have to raise all that money, make all those calls, attend all those functions. Ask any council member about all the subcommittees, 2×2’s, regional boards, and public meetings they’re supposed to do as part of their job.

  5. Tia Will


    the council is supposed to be a 30 hour a week job more or less”

    I did not know that there was any “supposed to be” time. Do you know where this number comes from ?

      1. hpierce

        Actually, Don, no need for apology… if one looks at the dictionary, coupled with some current and former CC member assertations, “supposed” and/or “supposedly” would be perfectly correct terms.

  6. Tia Will

    Definitely no need for apology. I honestly did not even know that there was no job description of approximation of time required. Thinking about it now, it seems a little strange that there isn’t at least some kind of approximation by duties other than just what individuals actually do put in.

Leave a Reply

X Close

Newsletter Sign-Up

X Close

Monthly Subscriber Sign-Up

Enter the maximum amount you want to pay each month
Sign up for