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- - - - Mark Twain (Roughing It)

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

California GOP Targets Bay Area Seat

Republican Catharine Baker

A Must Win District
  • If the GOP can't win solid middle to upper class districts like this one then the party might as well dissolve itself and let a new party form to oppose Leftist Democrats.

Democrats currently hold every legislative seat in the California’s San Francisco Bay Area. But a voter revolt against public unions could give Republicans an outpost in the East Bay.

A recent poll in the 16th Assembly district commissioned by the California Chamber of Commerce’s JobsPAC shows Republican Catharine Baker, an attorney from Pleasanton, running even with the Democratic mayor of Dublin, Tim Sbranti. Democrats enjoy an eight-point voter registration advantage in the predominantly white, affluent suburban district.

Baker has benefitted from a knock-out primary fight between Sbranti and Gov. Jerry Brown’s former adviser Steve Glazer. While the two Democrats spent millions beating each other up, Baker cruised to first place in the top-two primary with 36.7% of the vote. Keep in mind that legislative campaigns rarely cost more than a few hundred thousand dollars reports the Wall Street Journal.

16th State Assembly District
39% Democrat, 32% Republican and 29% Independents
and smaller political parties.

A self-styled pro-business Democrat, Glazer flogged his opponent’s union friends. (Sbranti used to head the California Teachers Association’s Political Involvement Committee.) Labor groups hit back by portraying Glazer as a corporate lobbyist. Their primary beef was that a couple years ago he worked as a hired gun for the state’s Chamber of Commerce, which had sought to topple two pro-labor Democratic incumbents.

Sbranti edged out Glazer for second place with 29% of the vote. Yet the Chamber poll shows that about a quarter of Democrats still aren’t sold on him, and independents favor Baker by two points. His coziness with the public unions may be to blame.

The liberal editorial page of the San Francisco Chronicle endorsed Baker for her “centrist sensibilities” and support for the Vergara court ruling in June striking down the state’s teacher tenure and seniority laws. By contrast, the Chronicle wrote, Sbranti is “a traditional Democrat—especially when it comes to toeing the party line in resistance to education reforms that intrude on the unions’ comfort zone.”

The Chronicle also criticized Sbranti’s refusal to endorse a ban on strikes by the Bay Area mass transit workers. A strike last year by the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) workers, who earn on average $76,500 per year, effectively shut down the Bay Area. By using the Vergara case and BART strike as wedge issues, Ms. Baker could run away with the race.

Republicans need to pick up one seat in the Senate or two in the Assembly to deny Democrats a supermajority. The GOP’s top targets are in Southern California and the Central Valley, which traditionally provide the most fertile ground for conservative candidates. But Republicans may be able to expand the playing field by capitalizing on voters’ animus toward out-of-control government unions.

Baker for Assembly.com

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