Milpitas’ McHugh eyes run vs. Wieckowski in AD25

Milpitas Vice Mayor Pete McHugh confirmed this afternoon that he’s considering running against Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont, in the newly drawn 25th Assembly District.

Pete McHugh“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.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • RR, Senile Columnist

    Bob W. did a wonderful job promoting Solyndra, something that would impress many voters.

  • Rick K.

    Go McHugh for Assembly! He would be a better representative for Fremont/Milpitas than Assemblyman Wieckowski, who is a puppet of the public employee unions. Those special interests so own Ass. Wieckowski that he was the “water boy” for their municipal bankruptcy bill (AB 506) that will make it easier for public employees to strike Vallejo-style “sweetheart deals” that literally are bankrupting cities and counties across the state. For this reason alone, independents (decline to state voters) need to vote en masse against Wieckowski in 2012. He needs to be held accountable for putting special interests ahead of what’s best for the people of Fremont/Milpitas. So go McHugh for Assembly!

  • Fremont_Politics

    Rick K: Whenever I stumble upon an uneducated blogger like yourself, I feel like I have to set the record straight. Although this may be a waste of time, my gut tells me that a hard-core tea party guy like you might best be served by moving to Alabama. Send us a postcard.

    Wieckowski is the best choice for Assembly. He has represented Fremont and the Tri-Cities very well. He has a great group of leaders and organizations supporting him, including education advocates, public safety officials, business owners and industry leaders.

    You seem to have misunderstood Wieckowski’s bill (AB 506). The purpose of the bill is to give cash strapped cities an alternative to very costly (and destructive) bankruptcies. It gives Cities other options. After all, even the City of Vallejo wishes it would have done things differently. Wieckowski is a bankruptcy attorney by profession; this is his area of expertise. He has a heart of gold, and has spent nearly 30 years helping families keep their homes and businesses stay afloat.

    On the other hand, Pete McHugh is a habitual campaigner and a professional politician, looking for his next spot to land since he is termed out from Milpitas City Council. He has run for every office under the sun, many times UNSUCCESSFULLY, and can’t truly be taken seriously in his latest scheme to try to stay relevant.

    Sounds like you are not from our area, or else you would know that Wieckowski is very well liked and respected.

    He has our vote, and he will win in November.

    Good luck with your tea party.

  • John W

    Re: Fremont_Politics @3

    “The purpose of the bill is to give cash strapped cities an alternative to…bankruptcies…”

    That statement qualifies for the BS Hall of Fame.

  • Francis

    Vallejo’s bankruptcy legal fees cost more than $8 million. The original debt was something like $9 million. Seems like requiring mediation before filing bankruptcy is a wise move. All parties will be motivated to negotiate. Unless you think paying $8 million in legal fees the best option.

  • Marcos

    Assemblymember Wieckowski had 8 bills signed by Governor Brown in his first 11 months on the job. Bills that protect our environment, streamlines regulations, encourages job creation, and protects working families from bankruptcy.

    That’s the kind of leadership the 25th Assembly District deserves!