Dems ‘pre-endorse’ some Bay Area candidates

Local Democrats voted Saturday to recommend that their state party endorse Rep. Mike Honda in the 17th Congressional District, Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski in the 10th State Senate District, and Dublin Mayor Tim Sbranti in the 16th Congressional District.

Some other candidates – including Rep. Eric Swalwell in the 15th Congressional District and Elizabeth Echols in the 15th Assembly District – didn’t have enough votes to win these “pre-endorsements,” but can make their cases at the California Democratic Party convention next month in Los Angeles. And some races were so split as to allow no endorsement at all.

Democrats gathered Saturday for their regional caucus meetings, choosing among their party’s offerings for offices. Per the party’s rules, a candidate who gets 70 percent or more of the vote is recommended for endorsement and placed on the consent calendar to be ratified at next month’s convention in Los Angeles.

If one candidate receives more than 50 percent but less than 70 percent of the vote for a district, the race will go to the caucuses held during the March Convention. And if no candidate gets a majority of the vote, no endorsement will be made in that race.

Assemblyman Bill Quirk, D-Hayward, was kind enough to tweet and Facebook the results from the Region 5 caucus meeting:

In the 17th Congressional District, incumbent Honda, D-San Jose, reportedly got 122 votes to challenger Ro Khanna’s 11 votes at Saturday’s caucus meeting, so Honda goes on the consent calendar for endorsement at the convention.

In the 15th Congressional District, incumbent Swalwell, D-Pleasanton, reportedly got 45 votes to state Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett’s 26 votes while three people voted against making any endorsement; Swalwell, having a majority but not 70 percent, will make his case again at the convention.

In the 10th State Senate District, Wieckowski reportedly got 105 votes, patient advocate Roman Reed got eight votes and former Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi got no votes, so Wieckowski goes on the consent calendar for endorsement at the convention.

In the 15th Assembly District, Echols – a former Small Business Administration regional administrator – reportedly got 45 votes, former Richmond councilman and school board member Tony Thurmond got 17 votes, East Bay Municipal Utility District board president Andy Katz got 5 votes, attorney Sam Kang got no votes, and four people voted against making an endorsement; Echols, having a majority but not 70 percent, will make her case again at the convention.

In the 25th Assembly District, former Fremont Police Chief Craig Steckler reportedly got 18 votes, San Jose Councilman Kansen Chu got 16 votes and Ohlone College Board of Trustees member Teresa Cox got 10 votes, while Milpitas Councilman Armando Gomez won no votes. With no candidate achieving a majority, there will be no party endorsement in this race.

After the Region 2 caucus meeting, Sbranti issued a news release announcing he had received 97 percent of the vote for the 16th Assembly District race, and so will be placed on the convention’s consent calendar for endorsement; other Democrats vying for that seat include Danville Mayor Newell Arnerich and Orinda Vice Mayor Steve Glazer.

And state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, announced he received a unanimous endorsement recommendation to succeed Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, when the latter retires from his 11th Congressional District at the end of this year. No other Democrats of any renown are seeking the seat.

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.

  • Marga

    Just FYI, there was one more candidate for AD 15 seeking the Democratic endorsement. Pamela Price, a civil rights attorney, is a new entrant into the race. I thought she made a very good case for herself. Most of the speeches were repetitive and unremarkable, but Tony Thurmond impressed even by very-jaded 12-year-old daughter. It’d be interesting to see what could happen if he is able to take the nomination to the floor of the convention – allowing all delegates, not just those in AD 15, to vote.

    Democratic endorsements have much more to do with how well connected a candidate is to the Democratic machine(s), and how well a lobbying job they do, than about their quality as a candidate. Steckler’s showing shows that as much anything.

  • Willis James

    I don’t see the game plan for Corbett.
    Come the November election she needs in excess of 60% of the votes from Democrats to offset the advantage that Swalwell will have from non-Democrats.

    What plan gets her there with the money advantage Swalwell has built up?

    At some point do you just throw in the towel and stop asking for more contributions?
    I’d like her to stay in so we can have a real election, but I can’t see a plan unfolding that enables her to win.

    Then we have Mary Hayashi.
    What is her plan? Who will she have giving her non-financial support? Any group who will be walking door to door for her? Can she even get a dozen campaign workers?
    She’ll have to go for the jugular and won’t that just bring up her entire past?
    If she goes that route, the mailers from both sides will be collectables.

    So who is advising Mary? She seems delusional.
    Perhaps all the folks in the political campaign business keep telling her she has a chance so they can get some of that $750,000 she has.

  • Marga

    The same plan that Swalwell had: knocking on lots of doors, talking to lots of people and making the case one-on-one.

    As for Mary, she has the money, she has to spend it, so she might as well run. She hinted that Weickowski is not what we think he is, and it sounds she will go for the jugular. But I don’t think she has a chance either. Money buys you name recognition – hers is pretty high, and not in a good way. Plus any votes he drives from Weickowski will go to Roman Reed, who seems likes a really nice guy.

  • Elwood

    “Democratic endorsements have much more to do with how well connected a candidate is to the Democratic machine(s)”

    Reminds me of the old USSR (and perhaps modern Russia). Everybody can vote but nobody can run.

  • Willis James

    The trouble Corbett has that Swalwell didn’t have is territory.

    Corbett is to the left of Swalwell, giving her a much smaller fraction of the political spectrum to push her differences.
    Swalwell can bend left and still not lose the rest of the spectrum to Corbett.

    If you manage to rally the progressive wing, you at the same time make Swalwell appear to be the best choice for the rest of the electorate.

    The top two system is in full play come November.
    She should give it a go through June.

    Will there be no Republican candidate in June to liven up the debates? A martyr perhaps.

  • Marga

    It’s the opposite, though. Any Democrat who pays the application fee can run for the endorsement. But only several dozen people can vote to give it.

  • Elwood

    Thank you for proving my point.