Analysis: More Money Figures Come in – Carson with Commanding Lead

The most recent money figures are in and the race seems to be about where it has been for the last few months.  It appears that Dan Carson has a commanding lead.  He certainly does on the money side, having raised nearly $40,000 – all by way of contribution.  This would appear to be the most money raised in any council race since 2008.

The question as always is whether money will translate into votes and it has been our view that most candidates in Davis do not need to raise more than about $20,000.  But Mr. Carson has shown a broad base of support as well as an organization that has walked the vast majority of Davis precincts.  Add it all together, and he heads to the election as the presumptive frontrunner.  In a week, we will see how the votes align.

If Mr. Carson is the leader, the next three would appear to be the women in this race – which has been our expectation for some time.  With Rochelle Swanson not seeking reelection, there is a danger of an all-male council – however, we believe that the second place finisher will most likely be female.

For some time, we have seen Linda Deos as having a slight edge over Mary Jo Bryan for second, but Gloria Partida is still a possibility as well.

Ms. Deos raised $4470, but $2500 of that was a loan to herself.  That helps to account for most of the margin from second to fourth in terms of fundraising.  Mary Jo Bryan has loaned herself a very modest $684 while Gloria Partida has not loaned herself anything.

Those three are extremely close in terms of money raised from contributions, and therefore it is hard to distinguish them in terms of monetary advantage.

On paper it would appear that Larry Guenther and Ezra Beeman are right there in terms of money.  But digging deeper, we see that Mr. Guenther loaned himself $5900 while Ezra Beeman has loaned himself $9000.

Ezra Beeman, therefore, has raised less money from contributions than anyone other than Luis Rios in this race.  Mr. Beeman of course started late, has continued to go out of town for a demanding job, and has missed two of candidate forums, with Colin Walsh standing in for him.

Our view at this point is that Mr. Guenther and Mr. Beeman are still in this race.  Their best hope is a strong finish by the opposition to Nishi, which would carry them to victory – being the only two candidates opposing the current iteration of this project.

Is that a likely scenario?  We are not seeing evidence for it at the moment.  There is not much to show that the candidates have a lot of support outside of their immediate base.  But in an election that goes nine deep, the split will matter greatly.

There is still a wild card here and that is Eric Gudz.  The bad news for Mr. Gudz is that the student vote – at least right now – is not appearing to materialize.  The Nishi and Gudz campaigns have had a strategy of registering young people to vote, signing them up with absentees, and getting them out to vote by mail because the election is during finals week.

One problem: by our count, the students have registered to vote in decent numbers, but the absentees are not coming in.

The good news for Mr. Gudz is that his money is solid.  On paper, he has raised just over $12,000.  But that figure gets more impressive when you realize that all but $600 of that is from contributions.  That means that he has actually raised the fifth most from contributions alone.

However, until and unless we see evidence of a student wave, we think Mr. Gudz is destined for the lower third of the slate.  A late surge of student votes could change that drastically, but for now we think Mr. Gudz is on the outside looking in.

Mark West appears to be headed for eighth.  He has raised $6500, all from contributions.  He got a boost of sorts from the Chamber endorsement, but in a race where there are other stronger candidates who are fiscally solid and pro-housing, we think Mark West is a long-shot at this point.

Finally, we believe that Luis Rios is a distant ninth.  Ne has only raised $3440 for the entire campaign (less than all but one of his opponents did in the last filing period).  But only $800 of that is from contributions from others.  He simply has not shown himself to have a viable campaign.

Our view in general is that, while money is important, for the most part money in Davis does not win elections.  You need enough money to do a mailer, a walk piece, signs, advertising, and a few other expenses.  More important is that money shows support.  If you are loaning yourself large amounts of money – then you are not showing you have broad support.

So, all things being equal, the candidate who raises more money from contributions is showing more support and more of a campaign organization.

Headed into the last week we see four tiers of candidates:  Dan Carson as the presumptive frontrunner; Linda Deos, Mary Jo Bryan and Gloria Partida as the next tier challenging for second; Larry Guenther as the third tier; and Ezra Beeman, Eric Gudz, Mark West and Luis Rios in the fourth tier – although you could argue that Eric Gudz should be in the third tier.

—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. Robert Canning

    The gap between what has been raised by the alleged frontrunner (we actually won’t know until next Tuesday evening if he was) and the other candidates is striking. As the Vanguard points out, the $40K that Dan Carson has raised is more than any candidate for City Council since 2008, in an era when bundling of contributions was not uncommon. In 2010, two candidates (both of whom had not run for public office before) eschewed contributions from individuals or groups who did business with the City Council. I wonder why a candidate believes he/she needs to raise such an enormous amount of money? Given that a decent campaign can be run for $20K with no problem. I am not sure why a candidate spends more than 25% on a professional campaign consultant when there are plenty of resources locally to do that kind of work.

    Dan Carson has done an admirable job raising money from several thousand possible constituents and getting the endorsements from the vast majority of electeds and ex-electeds. He has sent out mailers and produced buttons. But most of all he has tirelessly (and with the help of his wife and others) walked every precinct in town – no small matter.

    I would propose that paid political campaign consultants for Davis City Council is overkill and he needn’t have spent that money elsewhere but kept his contributors money here in Davis. Davis elections are one of the wonders of Davis – they are local, citizen-funded, free-for-alls that show off the values of Davis as a city with involved citizens. Nobody “buys” an election in Davis. Sure there have been hints that developers and others pay-in because they get influence, but I don’t really believe that makes much of a difference in the long-run. So why raise so much money? What does it get you beyond a large fund of money and the top of the chart in Enterprise and Vanguard articles.

    1. Matt Williams

      “What does it get you beyond a large fund of money and the top of the chart in Enterprise and Vanguard articles?”

      Based on what was said at a recent meeting where a group of voters got together to share their views on the Council election, one more item Robert Canning can add to his list above is and being labeled as “the establishment candidate.”

  2. Howard P

    ” there is a DANGER of an all-male council”


    Should we have designated CC seats guaranteeing there is at least 2-3 females?

    Designated seats for racial minorities?  Gender identification?  Sexual orientation?

    Let’s start by a concept of “no white ‘straight’ males need apply”…

    Ironically, one of the most dysfunctional councils, was when Ruth and Sue were both serving… not a gender thing, a personality thing…


    1. Matt Williams

      Howard, I went to see the movie RBG over the weekend, and it may be interesting to note that Ruth Bader Ginsburg is on record with the opinion that nine women Justices on the Supreme Court is the ideal number.  When asked about that comment, she responded, “Nine men worked well for many, many years … and no one complained.”

    2. Ken A

      The city could use “affirmative action” like colleges do to add to the “diversity” of the city council or we could go to “weighted voting” where straight white males votes only counted for 3/5 of a vote (with the “danger” of an all-male council so real the city needs to do something):

  3. Jim Hoch

    Note also that in 2010 Davis was 22% Asian and by now we are likely at 25% with the possible exception of Brett Li, have no Asian CC members.

  4. Tia Will

    Agree with Howard on this one. Sure I would like to see a woman on the council as I do believe that many women have a different sensibility than do many men based on life experience. But I acknowledge that bias and do not consider it a selection criteria for the CC. I believe that we should be choosing candidates based on whose positions are in best alignment with our own visions for the city, not on the basis of genetic pre-determinants.

    1. Howard P

      Je d’accord… across the board on this post of yours…

      BTW, got to meet the very first woman to serve on the Davis CC… Kathleen Greene, as I recall… in her late 70’s, she was ‘a kick’… sharp, intelligent, and on my list of top CC members… those who are more “old-timer” than I, agree… she was/is her own person… not a “token”… as part of a larger group, we shared a beer… we were ‘people’ then… not Black/White/Brown, not male/female… just people, neighbors and new friends… “Those were the days, my friend, I thought they’d never end…”

      1. Alan Miller

        “Don’t hate the black, don’t hate the white, and if you get bit, just hate the bite.”

        — Sly Stone

        (One of my favorite lines — so simple, so missing today)

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