Sunday, April 20, 2014

Bob Dunning: It’s a four-horse race in the 4th District


From page A2 | June 16, 2013 | 5 Comments

Now that Dandy Dan Wolk is celebrating Father’s Day as an “official” candidate for the 4th District Assembly seat after Saturday’s formal announcement, I’m doing my best to handicap a race that is still in the embryonic stage.

So far we have four Democrats and no Republicans in the race, which is not surprising given that this is presumed to be one of those “safe” Democratic districts.

In the only other Assembly election since the district was redrawn following the 2010 census, Mariko Yamada romped past John Munn by a nearly 2-to-1 margin. Whether anyone will rise from the tomb of the Unknown Republican to become yet another sacrificial lamb remains to be seen, but here’s betting the answer is “no.”

Which leaves us with Dandy Dan and his councilmate, Joe Krovoza, plus Napa County Planning Commissioner Matt Pope and Lake County Supervisor Anthony Farrington, all vying for the top two spots in the primary and a two-man face-off in the November 2014 general election. And, as my friend Rich notes, even if someone pulls off a majority in the primary, there’s still a runoff in November between the top two vote-getters. Strange, but true.

Interestingly, despite being routed in 2012, Munn did win Colusa County (1,381 to 1,001) and Solano County (6,447 to 5,381), though only parts of each county are in the 4th District.

Yamada dominated in Napa County, all of which is in the district (32,799 to 20,828) and that portion of Yolo County in the district (37,583 to 18,210). That part of Sonoma County in the district went to Yamada as well (19,039 to 8,235). All of Lake County is in the district and it went to Yamada (12,278 to 9,845).

Speaking strictly geographically, Pope could make things interesting if he can dominate Napa County, his home, while Wolk and Krovoza split the Davis vote and perhaps fare poorly in Woodland, where the phrase “Davis City Councilman” is not exactly a powerful calling card.

It gets even more interesting if Farrington can hold his own in his home Lake County, denying a foothold for any of the other three. Such a scenario could land Pope at the top of the primary heap, with either Wolk or Krovoza a close second.

This assumes, of course, that all four candidates stay the course in more than name only by running credible campaigns throughout the district. That’s by no means assured.

Pope sounds those consistent Democratic themes of more money for higher education, protection of ag land, environmental conservation and economic stimulation. It’ll be hard to find any other candidate disagreeing with those broad positions.

Common wisdom tells you Pope may as well save his money and not spend much time courting the Davis vote, what with both Wolk and Krovoza in the race, but our recent highly contentious water election may provide him with an opening, especially with the 46 percent of Davisites who voted against the project. Given that both Wolk and Krovoza strongly supported the water project and are now attempting to abandon their posts before the really bad water rates hit the electorate, Pope may be able to gain some traction among those Davisites who felt betrayed by the water vote. Then again, he’d have to disavow the water project, which is something he may be reluctant to do.

Still, I receive emails regularly from folks like my friend Pam, who says she could not support either Krovoza or Wolk for Assembly “because of the water rate debacle that is going to bankrupt our town.”

Both Krovoza and Wolk have proven to be popular at the ballot box when they were seeking seats on the council, but the evaluation process can be much, much different when an Assembly seat is on the line.

For sure, one of those two will earn a spot in the general election, but not both. The likely opponent will be Matt Pope.

We’ll know more about who’s serious and who’s not when the dollars start rolling in to the various campaign treasuries. With six counties to cover in your campaign bus, if you can’t raise gas money, you can’t win.

— Reach Bob Dunning at



Discussion | 5 comments

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  • Rich RifkinJune 15, 2013 - 7:38 pm

    Bob, what do you make of the fact that if you want to contribute money to Dan Wolk's campaign, he requests you send your check to 1127 11th Street, Suite 331, Sacramento, CA 95814? That suite at that address is the home of the Institute of Governmental Advocates, also known as the paid lobbyists. Is Dan trying to say that if elected he will be working on behalf of the paid lobbyists? It certainly seems that way if that is where his contributors' checks are going.

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  • Tara BrownJune 16, 2013 - 5:07 pm

    I googled the address and a lot of different things come up. Mostly other political candidates or groups. It's likely this is the address of a professional fundraiser or "finance consultant" who has many clients. That's typical for state level campaigns. As a side note, it's not the Institute of Governmental Advocates itself that uses the address, but something called "Capitol Connection". The reason the Institute itself comes up in Google is because Capitol Connection is listed in their directory. The institute has a different address altogether. (All this I learned by actually clicking the link that came up on Google, something I suggest one do before firing off a comment)

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  • Scott JankeJune 16, 2013 - 10:35 pm

    Haha I expect better of your research skills Rich! You really just saw the top google result, jumped to a conclusion and called it good? Better luck next time in your Dan Wolk witch hunt!

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  • Rich RifkinJune 17, 2013 - 4:01 pm

    For the record, I have no witch hunt. I am not pro or con any announced candidate. However, I am in favor of clean politics, uncorrupted by monied interests. I know from watching the corrupt behavior of Mariko Yamada in the Assembly, where she would sign on as a co-author to bills (she never wrote them; groups like Capitol Connections write the bills for the special interests) which were intended not to serve the public interest, but rather were intended to serve the private interests of those groups who funded Yamada's campaigns. Nothing demonstrated that level of corruption more than her support (again, she was a co-author) of the 2009 municipal bankruptcy bill which was written for the firefighters. It was designed to make municipal bankruptcy take an endless amount of time and to make it so expensive that no city or county in financial trouble would attempt it. The reason the firefighters wanted that bill was because if a city or county files for bankruptcy protection, its labor contracts can be (and usually are) re-written, so that all of the corrupt terms in them which harm the public interest can be removed. In Davis, for example, a bankruptcy action could rid our contracts of the guaranteed overtime paid to firefighters every duty period and the provision where we pay the union president his salary plus overtime when he is working for the union but is not in Davis and not serving our public interest. The California League of Cities and CSAC (the counties) strongly opposed Yamada's actions on that bill. But they don't matter to corrupt people like Mariko. All that matters is who is funding her campaigns--and that is the public employees, esp. the firefighters. So when they tell Mariko to jump, she jumps. This corruption will only end when we get rid of privately financed campaigns and go to public financing. All of the major corruption in our state government grows out of the special interest money which funds campaigns. And since ours is a Democratic state, and the unions are extremely strong and very wealthy, the major source of corruption in our state is the unions. That is why California is roughly $1 trillion in debt, counting only the amount of money the state owes or will owe in underfunded pensions (including CalSTRS) and underfuned retiree medical. And these problems have never been fixed. They will weigh our state down for at least the next 30-40 years. ... So go ahead. Pretend that I am a witch-hunter and falsely say I am motivated against one candidate. But if you cared about the truth, and cared about our state, you would know that all I care about here is how corrupt our campaign finance system is and how this corruption harms all of us.

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  • Rich RifkinJune 17, 2013 - 4:08 pm

    FWIW, my source for the claim that we owe $1 trillion in California is The Economist: "The golden state, once described as America’s Greece because of its fiscal woes, is reporting a $1.2 billion budget surplus. But the euphoria is premature. California still has a mammoth long-term pension gap. If it used the same pension accounting standards as private companies must, its total debts would be a terrifying $1 trillion." ...

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