For the second Assembly election in a row, Dan Wolk was unable to overcome a number of factors and make it to the general election. In 2014, he finished third behind eventual winner Bill Dodd and Republican Charlie Schaupp. In a somewhat weaker field, Mr. Schaupp finished first ahead of Winters Mayor Cecilia-Aguiar Curry, fueled by millions in indepedent expenditures.
In a district that heavily tilts toward Democrats, Ms. Aguiar-Curry, despite a relatively lackluster campaign, now becomes the heavy favorite to become the next Assemblymember.
Dan Wolk finished third, about 2000 votes behind Ms. Aguiar-Curry in second. Don Saylor finished 8000 votes behind Dan Wolk. Mark Kropp got 1400 votes to finish fifth.
The big story in this race will undoubtedly be the three million dollars in independent expenditure (IE) money. The money, coming from EdVoice, the oil and tobacco industry and farming interests, actually dwarfed hard money raised by the candidates. The was just enough to push Ms. Aguiar-Curry into the top two and into a November general election.
But there are a lot of sub-stories here that have been less covered. Cecilia Aguiar-Curry ended up spending about $141,000 in her own campaign. Dan Wolk would spend about $216,000 in his. Neither of these numbers are particularly impressive – in fact, combined, they are less than half of what Dodd himself spent back in 2014.
There will be those who point once again to the presence of a second Davis candidate who would split the vote. In 2014, Joe Krovoza, the Mayor of Davis, ran strong in Davis but weak in the rest of the district, causing Dan Wolk supporters to point the finger at the mayor for being a spoiler. This year it was Don Saylor, who finished a distant fourth but received 11,000 votes. No doubt supporters of Dan Wolk will argue that if just a few of those had shifted to Dan Wolk in the absence of Mr. Saylor, Dan Wolk could have overcome other shortcomings.
But there is also a fault to that argument. In 2014, a number of people who voted for Joe Krovoza may not have viewed Dan Wolk as their second choice. The same may well have been true this time. To many, Dan Wolk has been young and inexperienced. Some have criticized him for picking superficial issues, attempting to frame his mayorship in a way to highlight his campaign.
In our view, looking at Dan Wolk’s results by county illustrates the shortcomings of his campaign. Dan Wolk did not fare well at all outside of Yolo County. He finished a distant third in Colusa, Lake, Sonoma and even Solano County where he works. He was only competitive in Napa County, where he still finished third.
In other words, Dan Wolk didn’t finish in the top two in any county other than Yolo County.
Yolo County was also interesting. Overall, he finished 1300 votes ahead of second place Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, but the bulk of that was Davis. He finished first in Davis, about 1700 votes ahead of second place Don Saylor. But in the rest of the county, he finished a distant third behind Charlie Schaupp and Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, and just 750 votes ahead of fourth place Don Saylor.
So, other than in his home town of Davis and in the county overall, Dan Wolk finished no better than a distant third.
The bottom line is that Dan Wolk can point to the numbers. He can complain about the IE campaigns and the presence of Don Saylor, but the numbers also show he just didn’t run strongly enough anywhere other than in Davis itself to be able to overcome any of these obstacles.
The money he raised as a second-time candidate, Mayor of Davis, and son of Senator Lois Wolk was downright pedestrian and, in the end, all of these factors together likely have put an end to Dan Wolk’s aspirations for a political career.
—David M. Greenwald reporting