“I’ve got a lot of experience in local government and I would like to see if I can make a positive difference at the state level, and possibly try to solve the problems by something other than dumping off state responsibilities on local counties and cities,” McHugh, also a Democrat, said today. “However, he is an incumbent, and as I understand it the powers that be – which would be labor and the Democratic Party – would like to keep their players intact. So I am still looking at it; it’s getting late, and I will be making a decision within the next three to four weeks.”
McHugh, 69, was elected to his latest Milpitas City Council term in 2008. He served three terms on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, winning elections in 1996, 2000 and 2004. Before that, he’d been on the Milpitas City Council since 1976, and in 1978 became the city’s first elected mayor.
As a former Fremont councilman, Wieckowski’s political power base is in that city. But redistricting split the city and the new 25th District, in which he resides, now extends further south so that parts of Santa Clara County – including parts McHugh has represented as a councilman or supervisor for decades – now make up most of the electorate.
After spending some time testing the waters, McHugh believes there’s support for him to run “but I want to be convinced that there is even more support out there. Challenging an incumbent is not an easy task, even in these days when people are less than enchanted with their federal and state representatives. I want to see if I can raise an adequate amount of money; ‘adequate’ will be defined later by me. It will be a challenge, there’s no question.”
Wieckowski, 56, had just short of $50,000 in his campaign’s account as of June 30, but late contribution reports show he pulled in $15,600 in the last few days of 2011.
McHugh said local labor officials with whom he’s been speaking have subsequently been called by Wieckowski and Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, inquiring about McHugh’s plans. McHugh said he finally talked to Wieckowski directly.
“He asked why would I run against him, and I said I’m not running against him, I might be running for the position to see if people want to give me a chance to bring some solutions up there,” McHugh said, especially solutions that don’t involve stripping local governments of funding as the state is now doing with redevelopment money. “It’d be wonderful to have a chance to be in that arena and take on the lions – or maybe give them something to chew on.”
UPDATE @ 5:28 P.M.: Wieckowski spokesman Jeff Barbosa said his boss is traveling today and can’t be reached.
“With the changes in redistricting this is not a big surprise. Bob has a lot of respect for Vice Mayor McHugh, but he is also confident that he will be re-elected to the Assembly,” Barbosa said.
“He currently represents Milpitas and a part of San Jose. He has worked hard on issues that are important to the region, including BART to San Jose and the clean technology sector. He has reached out to Silicon Valley and small businesses to create policies that will keep the Valley a leader in innovation,” Barbosa continued. “The Assemblymember has already earned the endorsements of the California Professional Firefighters, CNA, the CHP and California School Employees Association, to name just a few. Several of his Santa Clara County Assembly colleagues have endorsed him, along with San Jose elected officials. He believes he is well-prepared to represent the 25th District.”