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AD15: Buchanan, Wilson spar today

Wilson

Wilson

Buchanan

Buchanan

My able and esteemed colleague, Josh Richman, covered the first face-to-face appearance this election season of Assembly District 15 candidates Joan Buchanan and Abram Wilson. Read his story here.

Buchanan, the Democratic incumbent, and GOP nominee Wilson, sparred in Alamo at an event sponsored by the Contra Costa Council. I was the moderator.

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AD15: Wilson touts independence

Abram Wilson flier

Abram Wilson flier

GOP Assembly District 15 candidate Abram Wilson, also the mayor of San Ramon, is leaving campaign fliers around the district that may leave some voters confused.

“Independent. Nonpartisan. Effective.” So reads Wilson’s mantra.

Nowhere does he mention in the flier that he is a Republican.

Democrats, who back incumbent Democratic Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan’s re-election bid, call it an intentional strategy in a competitive district to mislead voters about Wilson’s position on the political spectrum.

For his part, Wilson has often proclaimed his disinterest in partisan bickering, an exercise he describes as a colossal waste of time that has contributed to California’s political dysfunction.

Wilson vows to work across party lines and find solutions.

Not to sound pessimistic but that whole “working across party lines” thing is not exactly popular in Sacramento.

Legislators who work with members of the other party are ostracized. They may find their offices moved to the basement. Their own party’s leaders may lead a recall effort back home or move to block their candidacies’ in other races.

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Campaign regulators warn Wilson

Wilson

Wilson

The California campaign finance watchdog agency has issued a warning letter to GOP Assembly District 15 candidate and San Ramon Mayor Abram Wilson for contribution violations related to his unsuccessful 2008 campaign.

Wilson’s campaign treasurer had failed to report within 24 hours $475,000 in non-monetary contributions from the California Republican Party received on Sept. 17 and Sept. 23. Wilson’s campaign believed the contributions were classified as member communications from the party, which reported the expenditures on its disclosures. The Fair Political Practices Commission cited the immediate and full cooperation of Wilson’s campaign treasurer as the basis for writing a warning letter rather than issuing a fine.

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AD15: Wilson has slight fundraising lead

Buchanan

Buchanan

Wilson

Wilson

GOP Assembly District 15 primary candidate Abram Wilson is slightly ahead in the money contest against Democratic incumbent Joan Buchanan.

Excluding a personal loan of $14,000, Wilson has collected $207,139 in contributions since Jan. 1, 2009, and has $119,891 in the bank as of March 17.

Buchanan, who has not loaned her campaign money, raised $189,374 in the same period and had $115,813 in the bank. (Buchanan loaned her congressional bid in 2009 nearly $1 million.)

To view their full reports online, click here for Buchanan and here for Wilson.

Neither candidate has an opponent in the June 8 primary, which means they can dedicate their warchests to what most expect will be a highly competitive and expensive general election battle. Democrats seized the seat from Republicans in 2008 with Buchanan’s win and they are as eager to keep it as the GOP is to take it back.

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Buchanan free health fair mailer draws ire

Buchanan

Buchanan

A Danville mental health clinic director is taking umbrage at Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan’s taxpayer-funded mailer that advertises Saturday’s free community health fair at the San Ramon Regional Medical Center in San Ramon.

“I run a small community for-profit behavioral health care business and I would love to have the California Assembly and tax dollars pay for some advertising for us as well,” said William Shryer, clinical director of the Diablo Behavioral Healthcare in an email.

The San Ramon Regional Medical Center is owned by Tenet Healthcare Corporation. While the screenings offered at the fair will be free, Shryer argues that Buchanan’s mailer amounts to taxpayer-funded advertising for a private company.

Buchanan is running for re-election and is expected to face a tough general opponent, San Ramon Mayor Abram Wilson. I scanned the state campaign finance database, and she did not receive direct campaign contributions from Tenet in her first election in 2008 nor has she reported any dollars from the firm so far in her 2010 re-election campaign.¬† (That does not preclude the possibility that Tenet contributed to a PAC that gave her money.¬† I didn’t dig that deep.)

Yeah. Okay. But I’m not persuaded that the benefits to Tenet outweigh the benefits to folks who will have the a chance to obtain free screenings for heart disease, osteoporosis, high blood pressure or diabetes. With all the people out of work these days, free health care is a pretty good deal.

Buchanan’s chief of staff Michelle Henry described the mailer as one of a series of brochures sent to residents of District 15 that advertise free community fairs such as a conference on how to recognize scammers that target senior citizens.

Her office is organizing several additional health fairs this spring and will host a job information fair in Livermore in mid-March.

All have or will involve mailing out fliers to district residents. They also send out emails but not everyone, especially the seniors and low income folks, have access to the Internet.

Access to publicly funded mail is all part of the power of incumbency and nearly every elected official in the nation takes advantage of it. I’ve seen legislator-sponsored¬† fairs on everything from preventing child abuse to averting mortgage foreclosure.

Unlike the San Ramon Regional Medical Center event, where the company is organizing the fair, Buchanan’s staff is bringing together he health care providers and other resources for the upcoming events.

“Since the San Ramon Regional Center was already putting on a fair, it meant we didn’t have to reinvent it,” Henry said. ”

Shryer says he called Buchanan’s office and asked about participating in Saturday’s event and was told that it was Tenet’s show.

It sounds as though he should call back and see about getting on the list for one of the other fairs.

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AD15: GOP challenger outraises incumbent Dem

Wilson

Wilson

Buchanan

Buchanan

Republican San Ramon Mayor Abram Wilson, in his second try for the state Assembly District 15 seat, has outpaced Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, in the first major campaign finance report.

Wilson had raised $148,314 as of Dec. 31, according to the latest campaign finance report. He also loaned his campaign an additional $14,000.

Buchanan reported $86,136 in contributions but has made no personal loans to her campaign.

It’s far too early to read much into these numbers.

Buchanan was busy last year running for the 10th Congressional District. She lost badly after investing $1.1 of her own money into the Sept. 1 special primary congressional election, finishing with just 12 percent of the vote. (Democrat John Garamendi eventually won the seat.)

Critics say she is vulnerable and will have trouble raising money after such a high-profile loss and a demonstrated willingness to write big personal checks.

But Buchanan, an incumbent with plenty of name identification, is still the Democrats’ best hope to keep a seat they wrestled from Republicans two years ago. It seems unlikely that Dems will abandon her. And unless a viable Democrat emerges to run against her in the primary — and no one has surfaced yet — she has plenty of time to put together a war-chest before the general election in November.