SD10: United Farm Workers endorses Hayashi

If you were wondering whether anyone would endorse former Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi in her run for the state Senate, wonder no more.

Mary HayashiHayashi, 47, of Hayward – who was convicted two years ago of shoplifting $2,450 worth of clothes from San Francisco’s Neiman Marcus – announced Tuesday that she has the United Farm Workers’ endorsement in her campaign for the 10th State Senate District.

Hayashi’s news release said UFW President Arturo Rodriguez wrote that Hayashi’s actions “have demonstrated a strong commitment to the farmworker movement and helped improve the lives of farmworkers. We hold you in the highest regard and consider you to be an individual with platinum status in the eyes of farmworkers.”

Hayashi will be competing for the state Senate seat – from which Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro, is term-limited out – against Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont; Democrat Roman Reed, a spinal-injury research advocate and planning commissioner from Fremont; and Republican Peter Kuo, an insurance agent from Santa Clara.

Wieckowski announced last week that he had received the sole endorsement of the Alameda and South Bay Labor Councils. Also, local Democrats at a regional caucus meeting earlier this month gave Wieckowski 105 votes for pre-endorsement while Reed got eight and Hayashi got none; that means Wieckowski’s name will be placed on the consent calendar at state Democrats’ convention next month in Los Angeles, an almost sure-fire route to the party’s endorsement.

But endorsements don’t pay for elections. Campaign finance reports filed at the end of last month show Hayashi finished 2013 with $734,000 in her campaign account and no outstanding debts. Wieckowski had about $125,000 in the bank and owed $32,000; Reed had about $49,000 after lending his campaign $40,000; and Kuo had $24,000 including a $5,000 loan from his own pocket.

Kuo is holding a campaign kick-off fundraiser this Thursday, Feb. 27, at the Bay Club Santa Clara (formerly the Decathlon Club), seeking from $100 to $1,000 per person.

And the fun might not be limited to these four candidates. The Alameda County Registrar of Voters’ log shows two other people have taken out papers for this race, which they might or might not file by the March 7 deadline: Alameda County Superior Court Judge Roy Hashimoto, and former Assemblywoman Audie Bock.

Bock, you’ll recall, was elected to the Assembly as a Green, then went decline-to-state for her unsuccessful re-election bid, then switched to the Democratic party – and now seems to be a registered Republican.

Yes, this 10th State Senate District race seems to be the gift that keeps on giving. Stay tuned…


Endorsements and money in AD-18 race

The fight for the 18th Assembly District seat rolled onward today with dueling endorsement announcements.

Alameda Vice Mayor Rob Bonta got the endorsement of United Farm Workers co-founder Dolores Huerta, a labor icon. Peralta Community College District Trustee Abel Guillen rolled out his nods from Oakland City Councilmembers Nancy Nadel and Ignacio De La Fuente. And Guillen and AC Transit Board Director-at-Large Joel Young both tweeted today that they won the endorsement of Teamsters Joint Council 7.

But while endorsements can make a good media splash, it’s questionable how much weight they’re given by voters. For myself, I’m more interested in following the money – so I briefly eyeballed the three candidates’ campaign bankrolls today. Each is, in some way, a direct product of the elected offices they’re already holding.

Bonta’s campaign had $132,239.62 cash on hand at the end of 2011, including $7,500 he loaned to it himself. Among the contributions he has received are $7,800 from the Alameda Firefighters Association PAC; $3,900 from Assemblywoman Fiona Ma’s campaign committee; $2,000 from Oakland City Attorney’s Office Supervising Attorney Mark Morodomi; and $1,050 from attorney Amber Maltbie, a former aide to Assemblyman Sandre Swanson, whom Bonta now hopes to succeed.

Guillen’s campaign had $107,040.94 cash on hand at the end of 2011, including $13,650 he loaned to it himself; since then, he scored a $7,800 contribution from the California Federation of Teachers Committee on Political Education (COPE) PAC. Also among his contributions are $3,900 from Cordoba Corp. of Los Angeles, $4,400 from Seville Construction Services of Pasadena, $2,000 from Steinberg Architects of San Jose and $1,000 from Olive Construction Management of El Cerrito, all of which do business with the Peralta college district. Among his elected contributors are Board of Equalization member Betty Yee ($1,000), Oakland Unified School District Board President David Kakishiba ($1,000) and Assemblyman Luis Alejo ($500).

And Young’s campaign had $171,827.32 cash on hand at the end of 2011. Among his contributions are $3,900 each from the Amalgamated Transit Union in Washington, D.C. and from the ATU’s California Conference Board; $5,500 from Emeryville-based developer Eddie Orton and his wife; $3,650 from the Engineering & Utility Contractors Association PAC; and $3,500 from AC Transit Ward 4 Director Mark Williams’ campaign.

More money for auto insurance ballot measure

Los Angeles-based insurer Mercury General Corp. on Tuesday put another $500,000 into Californians for Fair Auto Insurance Rates, the same sum it had put down at the end of June. The committee supports the Continuous Coverage Auto Insurance Discount Act, which according to the state Attorney General’s summary would alllow “insurance companies to increase or decrease the cost of auto insurance based on a driver’s coverage history” – that is, whether the driver has been insured before, with better rates available to those who’ve continuously maintained coverage even if they switch insurers. It also would allow insurers to consider “claims experience” when calculating the amount of such a reduction or when determining who’ll be eligible for it.

Critics say the measure would penalize people who miss one payment or who decide not to drive and let their insurance lapse but later change their mind, and would let insurers penalize drivers simply because they file a claim, even if they are not at fault; currently only accidents where a driver is at fault can be used to increase his or her premium. The proposed measure’s proponents have until Jan. 11 to gather the 433,971 signatures required to put the measure on the ballot.

UPDATE @ 9:15 A.M. THURSDAY: Looks as if the proponents have revised the proposed measure’s language to try to address critics’ concerns.

In other campaign finance news this week, Change to Win – the progressive public policy coalition of the Teamsters, Laborer’ International Union of North America, Service Employees International Union United Farm Workes, United Food and Commercial Workers International Union and UNITE HERE – on Monday put an inaugural $1 million into the United Farm Workers’ Committee to Oppose Statewide Water Bonds, said bonds being pushed predominately by agribusiness concerns, Gov. Schwarzenegger and legislative Republicans.