My View: Carson Now Dominating the Field on Campaign Donations

The Battle is On for Second in Cash Raised Among Deos, Bryan, Partida and Possibly Guenther

It is always hard to handicap a race in which there is no polling, turnout is uncertain, and the dynamics of the campaign are still unfolding.  However, for the first time in this race that is dominated by a large field and uncertainty, I feel safe in proclaiming that Dan Carson is the prohibitive frontrunner.

Money matters in Davis politics probably more as an indicator of level of support than an instrument to acquire more votes.  Candidates can win in Davis based on grassroots activity and precinct walking, but usually the winning candidates are backed by a large pool of people willing to donate money, and Dan Carson has that.

Let us put this dominating performance into perspective.  Since 2008, Dan Carson has already raised more money than any other candidate.  The 2008 campaign was the last really big-spending campaign we had – before the recession.  In that campaign, Don Saylor finished first and raised over $75,000.  There were in fact four candidates to raise at least $40,000 – Stephen Souza, Sue Greenwald, and Cecilia Escamilla-Greenwald.

Since that campaign, no one has raised $40,000, and only Lucas Frerichs in 2012 had raised even $30,000.

Within this field, Dan Carson is simply dominating.  Again, let us put this into perspective.  He raised $35,491 for the total campaign, and that is more than the next three highest candidates COMBINED.

His $22,000-plus raised this current cycle is nearly double what Linda Deos, the number one candidate in donations, has raised for the entire campaign.

One might be tempted to put an explanation on the campaign finance changes, but if that’s true, it is unclear from the data.  He has raised the new $150 maximum from 85 individuals this period out of about 145 or so total donations this period.  However, that additional money only accounts for about $4250 of the $22,337 he has raised.

This is still about volume of donations and Dan Carson is simply lapping the field in this respect.

Does that mean he’s going to win?  Not necessarily, especially in a nine-person race that figures to have interesting vote splits.

There are several other reasons to put Dan into the “clear frontrunner category.”

First, he seems to be the choice among the establishment.  How well that translates into actual votes, you see a broad group of people, including a lot of influential current and former officeholders, supporting Dan Carson.

Second, as we have analyzed previously and likely will again, Dan Carson has the best or at least among the best command of the overall issues of any candidate.  Anyone who listens to Dan Carson comes away believing that he has done his homework, put in the time, and knows his stuff.  That is true whether you agree or disagree with him on a particular issue.

Third, in a race full of single-issue candidates, you could argue Dan Carson falls into that category on fiscal issues, but he seems to have a much broader understanding of the overall issues than his colleagues.

It is hard to know for sure, but talking to him after the forum the other night, it would appear he has the most robust ground game.

Put that all together and, for the first time in this race, we appear to have a clear frontrunner.

Is this a race for second?  I would be careful.  I really believed in 2016, for example, that Will Arnold would be the clear winner.  Instead, Will Arnold placed third, mostly coasting, and Brett Lee put together the superior organization and dominated the field.

On the other hand, in 2010 Joe Krovoza, through superior organization and money, lapped the field, Dan Wolk was the clear frontrunner and dominated in 2012, and Robb Davis emerged from nowhere to dominate the field in 2014.  I would argue all of those performances were clearly visible, both in terms of money and campaign organizations.

I would argue that Dan Carson is in a similar boat.  But you never know and this could be the year that disproves the rule.

Still, at this point my gut tells me that we have a race mostly for second and there are a number of candidates that can finish second.

Linda Deos has a slight monetary edge with nearly $13,000 raised, she was the clear consensus choice for the Democratic Central Committee and has strong ties into the new progressive community.  It will be interesting to see if perceived stumbles on the growth issue end up costing her.

Mary Jo Bryan has put together a very strong 2018 calendar year with about $10,000 this period to burst into second.  She is seen as a champion of senior issues and housing, although she was outspoken against Sterling.

Gloria Partida was probably the frontrunner coming into the race, the perception has been her performance has been lackluster, but she came in strongly with $9200 raised this period, third this period, fourth overall.

Eric Gudz has put together a diverse coalition, but his fate probably lies with the college turnout.  If 5000 students come out to vote for Nishi, Eric figures to be the beneficiary.

Then there are Larry Guenther and Ezra Beeman.  Larry’s 460 hasn’t shown up, but when it does, he could push into fifth, perhaps even higher on the money race.  He has had a strong showing.  It is probably fair to say that Ezra Beeman’s monetary performance is lackluster, but do not underestimate him.

The advantage that both Larry and Ezra have here is that they are the two opposing Nishi in this election.  Right now Nishi doesn’t seem to be a huge issue by itself – student housing is overall – but we are reminded that in 2000, there was only one candidate that opposed Measure J (the original Measure J as opposed to Nishi) and she dominated the field to finish first.

Susie Boyd thus finished a dominating first, ahead of Michael Harrington and then Sue Greenwald with several other strong candidates including incumbent Stan Forbes, former Councilmember Jerry Kaneko and respected community leader, Tansey Thomas.

That was an eight-person field, but the top three were elected, while this is a nine-person field with only two seats available.  In 2000, the two incumbents sought reelection (Susie Boyd and Stan Forbes).  In 2018, there are no incumbents.

At this point, I would argue that Dan Carson is the frontrunner and as many as six other candidates have a realistic shot at second.  How that shakes out, hard to know.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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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. Tia Will

    Dan Carson has stated that he is on a single issue mission. He understands and stands for fiscal responsibility. However, I am not a single issue voter and believe that there are also many other issues affecting our community that he may not represent as effectively.

        1. Tia Will

          With the exceptions of Mark West with a business focus and Ruiz with lifestyle, family issues as his focus, I really do not see any of the others as single issue candidates and certainly none of the others have proclaimed themselves to be as clearly as Dan Carson has.

        2. Howard P

          So, Tia, with Carson, West and Rios being the only ones with single/shallow issues, what percent of the multi-focused candidates are from OEN?

          I see two candidates who are apparently parleying their “lifestyle, family issues” as their focus to attract votes…

      1. Tia Will


        I happen to agree with you, but am not sure what point you are making unless you are willing to share which candidates and which issues from your perspective.

        1. Howard P

          I’m speaking as to apparenent incompentency by all to do anything other than pander to those who they think will get them elected… this is a weak field…

          I look for folk who listen, think, then use their judgement, whether I agree with them or not.

          We’re losing one of those who fit my criteria… the current Mayor…

  2. Tia Will


    Why do you think Ezra Beeman and Larry Guenther are running?

    I think that both Beeman and Guenther became interested in running because of a single issue. Neither of them has declared, as has Carson, that they are now focused on a single issue. 

    1. David Greenwald

      In defense of Dan, he knows his stuff and can answer credibly outside of a single issue better than most if not all of the other candidates.

      1. Howard P

        My impression, as well… still am not at the point of casting a positive vote for him… yet… but the detractors are pushing me to support him, given their rationales…

        To grossly overstate it, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”

  3. Tia Will


    We’re losing one of those who fit my criteria… the current Mayor…”

    On this point, I agree with you.

    However I believe that all candidates speak to their own base in order to get elected. In some cases that rises to the level of “pandering”. In some cases it is simply honesty and transparency. It is subjective where one draws the line between the two.


    1. Howard P

      Agreed… there are narrow interest contituancies (base) who support their narrow interest candidates… which is all well, and good… for them…

      You have pretty much also explained the 2016 election outcome.

  4. Tia Will


    he only ones with single/shallow issues, what percent of the multi-focused candidates are from OEN?”

    I did not say that anyone’s issues were “shallow”. I don’t believe they are. All issues that have been brought up are of importance so I’m not going to play that little gotcha game. What I drew the distinction on was single issue focus. Only 3 candidates have, in their own words, narrowed their campaigns publicly.

    1. Howard P

      “Narrow”/”shallow”… Po-TA-Toe / Po-ta-toe… let’s call this off…

      “What I drew the distinction on was single issue focus. Only 3 candidates have, in their own words, narrowed their campaigns PUBLICLY.”

      Correct… some may not be so transparent…

      1. Tia Will


        “Correct… some may not be so transparent”

        Maybe, or maybe the other issues that they care about deeply have not risen to the top of the agenda during the various forums. Using me as an example. On this blog, I frequently post on health and wellness issues. That certainly does not mean that I do not care deeply about other issues or that I am lacking in transparency.

        Also I do not agree that narrow and shallow are interchangeable terms. Narrow can run very, very deep or can be both narrow and shallow. Shallow may be both very broadly spread, or interpreted as superficial.

  5. Michael Bisch

    Tia is distorting the candidates public records and has turned the world upside down. She has declared those candidates campaigning on a broad range of issues as single-issue candidates and the single-issue candidates as being multi-issue candidates. Here’s my take on this debate:

    West and Carson have a long public record of championing many issues and their campaigns reflect that. Furthermore, their public comments over the years, whether one agrees with their positions or not, make it quite clear that they have a firm grasp of these many issues. Gudz has a shorter public record of doing the same albeit a somewhat shaker grasp.

    The only public record Beeman and Guenther have are of opposition to Trackside (and possibly supporting the Ace Parking project and Lincoln 40 – my memory is failing me somewhat here). Worse yet, they’ve made it quite clear that they have zero grasp of any of the multitude of city issues that the City Council has to grapple with.

    Partida, whether one agrees with her positions or not, has a terrific, long-standing record of public service on social equity issues.

    Deos had no public record on local issues until she recently began speaking during public comment at City Council meetings where she has tripped all over herself. According to the Yolo Dems, Deos interests are national and state issues, not local, which explains her lack of knowledge regarding local issues. From the Yolo County Democratic Party endorsements:
    The decisions were reached, according to Schelen, after the conclusion of a lengthy process.
    “This year we are seeing the Republican Party adopt obstruction, political intransigence, and exclusionary rhetoric and policy in Washington, D.C. and in states and communities across the country, he stated“The turmoil of the present administration seeps down to every level of government, however, we must continue to be the path of resistance,” Schelen added

    “Now is a critical time for Democrats, especially at the local level, to guide the nation toward policies of fairness, tolerance, and better economic and educational opportunities for all of us,” Schelen continued. “The Yolo County Democratic Party is confident that our endorsed 2018 candidates embody these principles, and that their election will allow Yolo County and California to continue to lead the nation in fostering the kind of communities we all want for ourselves and for our children.

    By the way, Deos has a terrible time struggling with consistency, which is most evident on her land use positions. On the one hand, she claims she supports more housing units. On the other hand, she publicly demands so many project requirements that it makes building more housing units impossible. If I were a no-growther, she’d be my candidate.

    Bryan: single issue (seniors).

    Rios: I’ve no idea what’s going on here. I’m not able to follow his positions.

    It’s fair to say, this CC election is being driven mostly by single issues, litmus test and national issues. Unfortunately, the community is likely to suffer for it.

    I am commenting exclusively on the candidacies, not on the character of these candidates.

  6. Michael Bisch

    There’s something else terribly disturbing about this CC election that needs saying publicly (I’ve been hearing it only privately). It must be incredibly discouraging for the hundreds of citizen volunteers serving on our City Council, commissions, task forces, faith-based organizations, stakeholder groups, and other service groups to work incredible hours, often over many years, on very thorny community challenges only to have so many of the CC candidates pop up out of nowhere to discount, dismiss and/or be entirely ignorant of all that hard work and service. This CC election is characterized in large part by sloth and hubris.

    The community volunteers deserve better.

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