Analysis: Has Bill Dodd Seized the Early Advantage?

Bill Dodd speaking before Davis City Council in July just prior to his announcement
Bill Dodd speaking before Davis City Council in July just prior to his announcement

This weekend, Bill Dodd noted that he already had the support of 200 individuals, many of them current and former elected officials. Bill Dodd faces former Assemblymember Mariko Yamada, and, while racking up endorsements is standard operating procedure, it is again worth noting that in 2008 Christopher Cabaldon dominated the endorsements and still lost in the primary.

Last week, Bill Dodd picked up the support of four of the five Solano County Board of Supervisors. Solano County holds nearly 40 percent of Senate District 3 voters, and the four supervisors – Erin Hannigan, Linda Seifert, Jim Spering and John Vasquez – represent 80 percent of Solano County.

Bill Dodd has received the support of three Congressman, most notably Mike Thompson, who currently represents part of the district and has at one time represented nearly all of the district.

He has also received the support of Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, and six state senators including the current District 3 Senator, Lois Wolk, and nine Assemblymembers.

At the county level, he has four of the five Contra Costa County Supervisors – a county that is not in the district. He has all five of his own Napa County Supervisors. He has three members of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors.

In Yolo County, he has three members of the Board of Supervisors – Oscar Villegas, Matt Rexroad, and Duane Chamberlain. He also has DA Jeff Reisig and Cass Sylvia, the Public Guardian.

And he has the support of the mayors of most big cities in the district: Rob Schroder, Martinez; Jill Techel, Napa, Alan Galbraith, St. Helena; Chris Canning, Calistoga, Jack Batchelor Jr, Dixon; Harry T. Price, Fairfield, Norman Richardson, Rio Vista, Pete Sanchez, Suisun City; Len Augustine, Vacaville; Osby Davis, Vallejo; Joe Callinan, Rohnert Park; David Cook, Sonoma; Tom Stallard, Woodland; Dan Wolk, Davis; and Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, Winters.

His opponent is not without some big endorsements in her own right. Most notably, Mariko Yamada has the support of John Garamendi, who represents part of the district in Congress and is well known around the state. She also has the support of three current Constitutional Officers, Controller Betty Yee, State Treasurer John Chiang, and Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones.

Other statewide notables for Ms. Yamada include: Bill Lockyer, Darrell Steinberg, Delaine Eastin, Tom Ammiano, and retired County Supervisor Betsy Marchand.

Among current elected officials, she has garnered: Yolo County Supervisor Jim Provenza, Solano County Supervisor Skip Thomson, Sonoma County Supervisor Susan Gorin, and Benicia Mayor Elizabeth Patterson, among others.

The key to this race will be the same key as 2008 and 2014 – the unions. In 2008, the unions not only matched the money but put huge amounts of canvassers into the race, that enabled Mariko Yamada to overcome the money and endorsement advantage of West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon.

In 2014, while the unions pumped in money to Dan Wolk, it was matched by money from business interests. While there were ground troops for Dan Wolk, it was not enough to overcome the advantages that Bill Dodd had and the impact of a fellow Davis candidate on the ballot, Joe Krovoza.

In the end, Bill Dodd prevailed and Dan Wolk finished third in the primary.

Bill Dodd, the current incumbent Assemblymember, has the strong support of local elected officials, but, as we have seen, sometimes that support does not translate into the resources needed to prevail in an election. For now, we believe that Bill Dodd has a strong advantage, but Mariko Yamada, and more importantly the unions, may ultimately hold the trump card.

In 2008, clashes between Mariko Yamada and Christopher Cabaldon on things like Walmart and his battles with the teachers’ unions created a climate where the unions put the resources in to take him out. In 2014, despite clearly favoring Dan Wolk, the unions did not have quite the incentive to take out Mr. Dodd. We will see how things go this time around.

—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. hpierce

    Heck… a former Republican, who shows Democrat leaning/openness stripes, appeals to many of us who are fed up with the uber-zealots of both major parties (who seem to control their parties [or, whose party controls them… unsure]).  Dodd actually (short experience so far, so may be wrong) seems to actually think… what a concept!  Voted for him last time, inclined to vote for him again.

  2. Gunrocik

    hpierce makes a very good point.  In furtherance of his point, the Cabaldon/Yamada race was under the old closed primary system.  As a moderate (which is what most voters are) Dodd will get plenty of votes from those moderates who lean right as well as those smack dab in the middle.  Yamada , a well known pawn of the Labor unions will get none of those voters.  Thus, in my mind, under the new system as a much more moderate opponent than Calbadon, I don’t see the 2008 as a good comparison for this year’s race.

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