Quite a battle is shaping up in the 15th Assembly District, where Nancy Skinner will be term-limited out at the end of 2014 and five could-be candidates cover the political spectrum from left to… well, left.
With less than 13 months to go until June 2014’s top-two primary, all five of the candidates who’ve filed statements of intention to run are Democrats, and pretty liberal ones at that – not surprising for this East Bay district, which includes Albany, Berkeley, Emeryville, Piedmont, El Cerrito, Hercules, Pinole, Richmond, San Pablo, Kensington and parts of Oakland including Montclair and North Oakland. As of February, the district was registered 64.5 percent Democrat, 7.8 percent Republican and 18.6 percent no-party-preference.
The field appears to include, in alphabetical order:
Elizabeth Echols, 53, of Oakland – regional administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration, appointed by President Obama in 2010, and an Alameda County Democratic Central Committee member. Among her earlier jobs, Echols was Google’s director of policy from 2004 to 2008; executive director of the White House’s E-Commerce Working Group, under Vice President Al Gore, from 1999 to 2001; and a senior advisor at the Clinton administration’s Commerce Department from 1995 to 1999.
Sam Kang, 34, of Emeryville – general counsel at the Greenlining Institute, a Berkeley-based policy, research, organizing, and leadership nonprofit working for racial and economic justice. A Korean immigrant who says he grew up working in his family’s small business, Kang earlier worked at several non-governmental organizations on issues ranging from Iraqi sanctions enforcement to economic development in New York’s West Harlem neighborhood
Andy Katz, 33, of Berkeley – government relations director for Breathe California, a nonprofit fighting for clean air and public health, and president of the board of the East Bay Municipal Utilities District. Katz has a long record on issues such as renewable energy and climate change and is a former chairman of the Sierra Club California; earlier in his career, he worked at a law center helping injured workers collect unpaid wages and workers’ comp, and as Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson’s community liaison.
Margaret “Peggy” Moore, 49, of Oakland – was California political director for President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign, and a longtime LGBT and political activist. An Oklahoma native, Moore was a 2008 Obama campaign volunteer who became the Northern California field director for Organizing for America, the campaign’s community-organizing successor group. She also was an Oakland City Council candidate in 2005.
Tony Thurmond, 44, of Richmond – senior director of community relations at the Lincoln Child Center; a West Contra Costa County School Board member from 2008 to 2012; and a Richmond City Council member from 2005 to 2008. His current project at the youth center, CEO Youth, is a high school youth entrepreneur program that applies the lessons students learn in the classroom to conceptualizing and launching a youth-led business venture. Thurmond lost to Skinner in the 2008 primary for what was then the 14th Assembly District.
The field might not turn out to be this big; while Thurmond and Katz have already launched their campaign websites and Kang is collecting contributions via ActBlue, neither Echols nor Moore has taken such overt action yet. (UPDATE @ 4:57 P.M. FRIDAY: Scratch that – Echols clearly is in, per comment #1 below.)
However many candidates actually get into the race, the top two vote-getters in June will advance to November’s general election – meaning candidates will need to muster enough money to survive a year-long campaign. Though all of these are toward the liberal end, it’ll be interesting to see who tries to maneuver toward the middle – and how – in order to attract non-Democrats, or if most of them just try to double-down on the progressive vote.