Sunday, September 21, 2014

Bob Dunning: Race comes down to dollars and syllables


From page A2 | April 03, 2014 |

In case you forgot, 40 percent of the current Davis City Council is running for the California Assembly seat being vacated by Mariko Yamada, and what a race it’s shaping up to be.

While Davisites tend to think of this as a race between just Mayor Joe Krovoza and Mayor Pro Tem Dan Wolk, the 4th District covers all or part of six counties, including a number of remote locations where no one has heard of Joe Krovoza or Dan Wolk, shocking as that might seem.

For some of these folks, our town is known only as “Davis Exit” as they roar past us on their way to Tahoe. For them, “Yolo” is merely an abbreviation for that popular expression about how many times you are allowed to live life.

In many of these same places, being a candidate from Davis is a liability, not an asset. Trust me on this as you gaze with your chin on your chest at the gigantic stuffed polar bear at Granzella’s.

In addition to Wolk and Krovoza, the field includes Napa County Supervisor Bill Dodd, UC Davis student Dustin Call and Esparto farmer Charlie Schaupp. It also used to include Napa County Planning Commissioner Matt Pope, who was Mariko’s favorite.

For my money, I was happy to see Pope fade from view, mostly because vertigo would set in every time I heard the names “Matt Pope” and “Bill Dodd” in the same sentence, realizing I would never figure out how to tell one from the other.

From their names alone, it’s obvious Krovoza is in trouble in this day and age of crisp, short, electronic messaging.

Look at the field. You have one-syllable candidates Wolk, Dodd, Call and Schaupp. (And formerly Pope.) Then you have the long and laborious three-syllable entrant, Krovoza.

Put simply, most people’s thumbs will give out long before they finish texting “Krovoza” to their friends.

Case in point, the aforementioned candidate with the impossibly long name of “Anthony Farrington” dropped out of the race long ago when he realized the words “Anthony Farrington, Assemblyman, 4th District of California” would not fit on a standard business card.

My advice for the mayor would be to follow the crowd and change his name to something short and snappy like “Joe Krow.” That ought to level the playing field in this era of limited attention spans.

In races like this, we’re always told to “follow the money” if we want to know who’s going to win. Sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn’t.

According to Cory Golden’s piece in this very newspaper yesterday, Dodd is the runaway leader in Bowling for Dollars with $527,942 hanging out of his pockets. If money is the mother’s milk of politics, Dodd owns a whole dairy.

Krovoza is next with $143,893 in the bank, followed by Wolk with $83,651.

It’s always fun, of course, to see where all this money is coming from. Sometimes one candidate leads in fundraising simply because of a few well-heeled supporters. Other times it’s indicative of broad-based support.

Inevitably, though, whether it’s an Assembly race or a contest for local dog-catcher, there will be a few head-scratching contributions that will make everyone stop and say “why is someone in New York state interested in this race?”

Usually that stray $100 donation from Poughkeepsie can be explained away as someone’s weird Uncle Harry trying to help a favored niece or nephew, but not always.

Among Dodd’s faraway donors is Jennifer Chiu, manager of the Koreana Restaurant and Bar in New York City. I have already submitted an expense request for a trip to the Big Apple to see what that one is all about. After all, I don’t want to worry that Koreana will be catering Assembly lunches in Sacramento if Dodd is elected.

In addition to a slew of small donors (people under 5 feet tall), Krovoza does have Angelo Tsakopoulos in his camp, while Wolk makes up for his lack of riches with a wealth of endorsements.

Me, I’m keeping my money in my pocket and withholding judgment on the candidate of my choice until I see whom the mayor of Arbuckle is endorsing.

That’s the one that could decide this thing once and for all.

— Reach Bob Dunning at





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