Napa County Supervisor Bill Dodd has emerged as a force to be reckoned with in the District 4 Assembly race, on pace to raise a record amount of money and attracting a long list of endorsements.
Dodd is squaring off against three other Democrats: Davis Mayor Joe Krovoza, Davis Mayor Pro Tem Dan Wolk and Napa County Planning Commissioner Matt Pope. The top two vote-getters in the June 3 primary will advance to November’s general election.
Through Jan. 31, Dodd had amassed $594,597 and had spent only $43,771. He’s all but sewn up the backing of Napa County’s elected officials.
Yolo County elected leaders — including the balance of the Davis City Council — have fallen in behind Wolk, but Krovoza has proved a skillful fundraiser. He’s second in the group with $223,590 raised ($165,586 on hand) to Wolk’s $122,077 ($70,163).
Pope has the backing of outgoing Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada, D-Davis, but his campaign trails the field with $84,612 brought in — $51,000 of that from loans to himself — and $60,015 in the bank.
District 4 includes all of Napa and Lake counties; three-quarters of Yolo County, including Davis, Winters and Woodland; about half of Colusa County; and smaller portions of Solano County, including Dixon, and Sonoma County.
Dodd: money magnet
Dodd’s financial backers reflect the wealth of the wine industry and the strong connection between Napa and both the Bay Area and Silicon Valley.
He’s attracted the support of some well-heeled public-pension reform activists, led by Democrat David Crane, a former adviser to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, and his wife, Carla, of San Francisco.
They’ve both donated the $8,200 maximum for the primary and general election, as have five members of San Francisco’s Fisher family, which founded the Gap clothing chain, and investor Gregory Penner of Menlo Park and his wife, Carrie. Penner sits on the board of Wal-Mart, which was founded by his wife’s family.
Crane and Penner are co-founders of Govern California, a pro-business organization that says it intends to back a handful of “courageous” legislators who support fiscal restraint and are willing to stand up to special interests. Crane lost his seat on the University of California Board of Regents after penning a controversial op-ed opposing collective bargaining rights for public employees.
Others who’ve given the maximum to Dodd’s campaign:
* Thomas Layton, a Palo Alto entrepreneur who has served as a leader or founder of firms that include Metaweb Technologies, OpenTable Inc., CitySearch Inc., Score Learning Corp., Ticketmaster Entertainment LLC., MAPLight.org and Ancestry.com Inc.
* Tench Coxe and his wife, Simone, of Palo Alto. Tench is the managing director of the private equity firm Sutter Hill Ventures, which has invested in tech companies like smartphone maker Palm Inc. and Lifescan Inc., which makes blood glucose monitoring systems.
* Jennifer Chiu, manager of New York City’s Koreana Restaurant and Bar.
Along with a long list of vintners of various political stripes, Dodd, a former Republican, also has attracted support from wine country tourism companies, recycling interests and three donations totaling $12,300 from Culligan Water-related businesses.
Prior to his election as supervisor, Dodd owned Culligan Water franchises in four counties. He is past president of the state and national Water Quality Association, a trade group.
“I am grateful for the support I’ve received, both monetarily and from the over 120 locally elected officials who’ve endorsed me,” Dodd said in a statement Tuesday. “And I’m proud to report that 98.1 percent of the money I’ve received has come from outside Sacramento.”
In Napa County, Dodd has been endorsed by, among others: two fellow supervisors; the sheriff; the superintendent of schools; the mayors and vice mayors of Calistoga, St. Helena and Yountville; the mayor of Napa; 14 other council members between those communities and American Canyon, combined; and four trustees of the Napa Valley Unified School District.
He has picked up support in Solano County from two supervisors, the district attorney, the vice mayor of Vacaville and a council member in Dixon. In Sonoma County, he has the backing of two supervisors, the sheriff and all five members of the Rohnert Park City Council.
In Lake County, he has the support of three supervisors, the district attorney, four members of the Lakeport City Council, including the mayor, and the vice mayor of Clearlake. One Colusa supervisor is also backing Dodd’s bid.
Which of Davis’ two entries into the race is faring better depends on where you look: the endorsement lists or the bottom line.
Krovoza: small-donor boost
Krovoza’s fundraising support includes local and regional business owners, energy and environmental interests and his roots at UC Davis, where he serves as senior director for development and external relations for the Energy Efficiency Center and Institute of Transportation Studies.
Krovoza called the support “humbling” and stressed the number of donations he’s received, most for fewer than $100, which he said is among the highest in the state for an Assembly candidate.
“The strength of this campaign is the continued growth of a grassroots network built on real relationships based on years of public service and volunteerism,” he said in a statement. “What’s most gratifying is that my supporters — more than 600 different donors to date — are those I have worked with first-hand over many years.
“Just like I did when I ran for City Council, I will continue to build this campaign from the ground up and focus on the key issues facing all of our communities — educational pathways that lead to careers and protecting our environmental treasures.”
Among Krovoza’s top donors are Ann Eastman, a doctor, and her husband, Jack, of Berkeley, who have each donated the maximum $8,200 to Krovoza.
Now the president of Eightfoldway Consultants, which produces website and web-based applications for nonprofit organizations, Jack is also the creator of After Dark screen savers — including the famous flying toasters — and guided the development of the video game You Don’t Know Jack.
Sacramento developer Angelo Tsakopoulos has contributed $6,569 in monetary and non-monetary contributions and his daughter Katina’s investment company, $2,050.
Others who’ve made $4,100 donations, the maximum for the primary, include: Bill Imada of West Hollywood, chairman of IW Group, an advertising agency; Scott Powell, the president of Sacramento Jet Center; Tali Rapaport of San Francisco, a project manager for Groupon.com; and D. Gregory Scott, Beverly Hills-based managing director of Peak Holdings LLC., a real estate investment firm.
They also include Ke Li of San Marino, senior vice president of Boyd Gaming Corp., a casino entertainment company, and Nicholas Josefowitz of San Francisco, the founder of the advocacy organization Leadership For A Clean Economy.
Krovoza has notched relatively few endorsement inroads in Yolo County, however.
His backers include Carlos Alcalá, chairman of the California Democratic Party’s Chicano Latino Caucus; Bill Owens, president of the Yolo County Board of Education; Woody Fridae, mayor pro tem of Winters; Mark Braly of the Davis Planning Commission; Cirenio Rodriguez, a Woodland Joint Unified School District trustee; and the Davis Police Officers’ Association, the last of which is also backing Wolk.
Krovoza also has the support of Steve Westly, the former state controller; former Senate majority leader Richard Polanco of Los Angeles; his UCD colleague Dan Sperling, a member of the California Air Resources Board; and actor and environmentalist Ed Begley Jr.
Wolk: attracting backers
Wolk’s endorsements strongly reflect the political connections of his mother, state Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis. They include Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, six other senators and three Assembly members.
In Yolo County, he’s received the support of two supervisors (Don Saylor and Jim Provenza of Davis), the sheriff, district attorney, superintendent of schools, all five Davis school board trustees, four members of the Davis Planning Commission and three Woodland City Council members.
His campaigning in Solano County, where he works as deputy county counsel, also has yielded results. There, Wolk has the support of two supervisors, the sheriff and three members of Dixon’s City Council, among others.
Lake County’s superintendent of schools and two members of Clearlake’s City Council, including the mayor, are backing Wolk. He has the support of one Sonoma City Council member.
His financial backing shows support from local and state lawmakers and hometown businesspeople.
Those who’ve contributed $4,100 include his father, Bruce; his mother’s 2012 Senate campaign; Sen. Kevin deLeon, D-Los Angeles; state treasurer candidate and former Assembly speaker Fabian Núñez of Los Angeles; Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord; Gregory McNece, property manager at Davisville Management Co.; Select Commercial Brokerage of Davis; and the California Dental Political Action Committee.
Wolk said in a statement that he was “very pleased with how every facet of our campaign is going,” including volunteer recruitment and fundraising, both of which he said were ahead of his campaign’s targets. His work began with solidifying political support in Davis and Yolo County, he said.
In addition to her endorsement, he has the support of Sen. Noreen Evans, D-Livermore, for whom he works as district representative; Assemblyman Paul Fong, D-San Jose; one member each from the Napa City Council and county Board of Supervisors; three members of the council in American Canyon, where he lives, including the mayor; and one member of Yountville’s City Council.
Pope said he didn’t think there are any clear front-runners in the race, at this point. Money is important but not insurmountable, he said, with time spent walking precincts ultimately more important.
Voters are responding to his progressive message, Pope said, and to his experience as a planning commissioner, labor organizer, security management executive, police officer and U.S. Navy reservist.
“I think I’ve defied a lot of people’s expectations, and I’m hanging in there,” he said. “I don’t think anybody was surprised that Bill came in with a lot of money, but I’ve seen a lot of races where the best-funded candidates don’t come in first.
“It still comes down to the voters. It still comes down to getting the message out. It still comes down to doing the work. That’s the school that I come from.”
— Reach Cory Golden at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8046. Follow him on Twitter at @cory_golden