Analysis: Dodd with a Huge Money Advantage in the State Senate Race

Bill Dodd

Assemblymember Bill Dodd announced this summer he was running for the 3rd Senate District, to replace the termed-out Lois Wolk. He brings to the race a number of advantages, including the backing from the two-term State Senator.

He has a huge monetary advantage over his most formidable opponent, former three-term State Assemblymember Mariko Yamada. He has an ending cash balance of $875,000. But not all of that money was from this year.

He amassed a huge war chest in 2014 when he ran for the open State Assembly seat vacated by Ms. Yamada, who was termed out. That war chest helped him beat out Democrat Dan Wolk in an open primary, then beating the Republican in a far less contested November 2014 election.

That meant he had over $400,000 left in the bank at the end of 2014, which he augmented with nearly half a million in 2015 that was then transferred to his Senate account. In total, he had just under $1 million, spending just over $100 of that.

“Our message of bringing more teamwork, listening more & talking less, and principled leadership to the state is resonating with people, and that’s reflected in our fundraising totals,” said Bill Dodd in a statement released by the campaign on Wednesday.

That gives Mr. Dodd a huge monetary advantage over his most likely closest rival, Mariko Yamada, who reported $179,931 in contributions with $158,000 cash on hand, putting her more on par with the Assembly candidates.

Ms. Yamada was heavily out-raised by Christopher Cabaldon, the West Sacramento Mayor, in their 2008 primary battle that resulted in the surprise victory for the former Yolo County Supervisor.

It was a pitched battle in the primary that year between the unions on one hand, and independent expenditures (IEs) by EdVoice, which many people felt went too far in their attacks on Yamada. There was by May 25, 2008, $640,000 in IEs for Mr. Cabaldon with $540,000 for Ms. Yamada.

In the end, the unions brought not only the money but the manpower, and outworked the heavy favorite Christopher Cabaldon – who had the strong support of the establishment, including former Assemblymembers Tom Hannigan, Helen Thomson and Lois Wolk.

Mr. Dodd has already faced this scenario, as in 2014 when the unions went after him with a barrage of highly deceptive attack flyers, while business interests heavily backed the former Republican.

Mariko Yamada is already showing up heavily with the unions. This week she has announced the sole endorsement of SEIU (Service Employees International Union) California, which represents over 700,000 service workers in the state. This endorsement comes just days after AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees) Council 57 announced their support – a signal that working Californians stand behind Mariko Yamada’s campaign.

Ms. Yamada said, “I’m honored to have the support of the hardworking members of SEIU. They know that I have been tested and have a long record of taking a stand on the most important issues facing working families in our state. I will not just be a vote but a voice for confronting income inequality, improving access to health care, mental health care, housing and education. This is the fight to protect the middle class.”

She continued, “Working Californians are the backbone of our state’s economy, and I’m proud to stand with them in the fight for a livable wage. We need real leadership in Sacramento who will stand up for those who need it most – and with the courage to get the job done.”

SEIU California was not alone, joining a number of powerful statewide organizations and leaders in supporting Ms. Yamada in her bid for the State Assembly – including California Nurses Association, California Federation of Teachers, AFSCME Council 57 (as mentioned above), California League of Conservation Voters, and California Women’s List. She also claims the support of current and former elected officials like Controller Betty Yee, Treasurer John Chiang, Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, and Congressman John Garamendi.

—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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