Political Climate with Mark Simon: Will state senate race remain drama-free?

in Featured/Headline/PoliticalClimate

The buzz around the wide-open race for the 13th State Senate District is that there is no buzz.

There are five able and reasonably well-credentialed Democrats running to replace Democrat Jerry Hill, who is termed out next year. But the talk among political insiders is that the field is not generating any excitement and that someone else might still get into the race. It’s not entirely fair, I suppose, because “someone else” can always seem more intriguing than the people who actually are running.

The five candidates continue to soldier on, of course, raising money, gathering endorsements and holding campaign events. And even though the primary is still more than 10 months away – the filing period for the race is still six months away – the opportunity for “someone else” diminishes every day.

In about a month, the candidates will disclose their latest fundraising reports, and we can expect public interest entrepreneur Josh Becker to continue to win the money race.

We also can expect that Redwood City Councilwoman Shelly Masur will have raised a viable amount of money – nothing like Becker’s totals, but enough to run a competitive campaign. Similarly, Burlingame Councilman Michael Brownrigg is likely to have sufficient funds on hand, although a fair amount may be his own money.

It’s hard to know how much money will have been raised by Millbrae Councilwoman Annie Oliva. She got into the race only recently and the word is that she is backed heavily by the local Realtors organizations. We’ll see if they’re ready to pony up so early in the race. As for former Assemblywoman Sally Lieber from Mountain View, she barely raised any money in the last fundraising cycle and there is no indication that is going to change this time.

Meanwhile, the candidates are scrambling to collect endorsements, and Masur appears to be leading that part of the race. Masur, it is said, has extensive ties to organized labor and that shows up in endorsements from carpenters, sheet metal workers and sprinkler fitters. Her high-profile endorsements include state Treasurer Fiona Ma, San Mateo County Sheriff Carlos Bolanos, former state Superintendent of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin and state Senator Connie Leyva, who chairs the state Legislature’s Women’s Caucus. And she has gathered endorsements from council members from Redwood City, Belmont, Burlingame, Brisbane, Foster City, Half Moon Bay, Mountain View, San Carlos, Sunnyvale and Pacifica. Head of an education nonprofit, Masur also has endorsements from 36 school board members throughout the district.

Becker’s high-profile endorsements including San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, South Bay Congressman Ro Khanna, Assemblymen Phil Ting, Ash Kalra and David Chiu, and councilmembers from Mountain View, Menlo Park, Los Altos, Sunnyvale, Palo Alto and Sunnyvale. Also endorsing: Lenny Mendonca, chief economic advisor to Gov. Gavin Newsom, Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith and Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen. San Mateo County Supervisor Warren Slocum also has endorsed Becker, as has Supervisor David Canepa, who is so full of political largesse that he also has endorsed Brownrigg.

Brownrigg also has endorsements from councilmembers from Atherton, Half Moon Bay, South San Francisco, San Carlos, San Bruno and all four of his colleagues on the Burlingame Council.

Oliva listed no endorsements on her campaign Facebook or web pages. And Lieber also listed no endorsements, which seems a little strange given her status as a past officeholder and her ties to progressive Democratic politics in Santa Clara County. Perhaps they’ll come later, or that she’s focused in other areas.

As for Facebook pages, for what it’s worth, Lieber has the most followers, 1,182. Becker has 1,035, Masur 932, Brownrigg 482 and Oliva five, although, it should be disclosed, I’m one of them because I’m following all the candidates.

NOTES, QUOTES AND EPISODES: If you thought it was too early for candidates to be running in a 2020 Senate race, cast a tremulous glance toward Belmont City Councilman Charles Stone, who last week held a high-profile kickoff to his campaign for the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors seat currently occupied by Carole Groom. You may have noticed that Groom was only re-elected a scant seven months ago and still has three years to go on her current term. Yes, that means Stone announced for an election in 2022. He seems slightly embarrassed to be announcing this early. But only slightly.  And it didn’t appear to diminish the number of people who showed up for Stone’s kickoff, which included Assemblyman Kevin Mullin, who announced he has endorsed Stone. Also on hand were four members of the San Mateo City Council. This is notable because the other likely candidate for this seat is San Mateo City Councilman Rick Bonilla, who apparently will not have the support and encouragement of his council colleagues.

Two-term San Carlos City Councilman Ron Collins, after several weeks mulling it over, has decided to run for re-election next year. “I don’t think I’m done,” Collins said. “I don’t think I’ve finished the job.” Collins has a long list of issues he still wants to tackle, including housing, transportation, commercial development and better recreational facilities for the City of Good Living. Collins also serves on the SamTrans and Caltrain boards of directors, which gives San Carlos a voice on two of the more critical regional bodies. “I’ve learned a lot in the last seven years. I not only want to continue that learning experience, but apply what I’ve learned,” Collins said. He said there is an energy in the current political environment that undoubtedly will result in several candidates for the two seats that will be up next year. Incumbent Mark Olbert also has indicated he will run again. Last year’s city council election cost candidates between $25,0090 and $30,000 and Collins said he expects his race will cost at least that much. “It’s my hometown,” Collins said. “It’s where I grew up. I love it as much as I ever have.”

Contact Mark Simon at mark.simon24@yahoo.com.

*The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Climate Online.

2 Comments

  1. There is no excitement in the race because there is no differentiation between the candidates other than their names. There are no ideas on how to fix problems, just recognition that problems exist. At the same time, they have no idea how to deal with climate change, consumer security or health care. Judging from their responses to my questions about those issues, they do know how to ask for money.

  2. “The buzz around the wide-open race for the 13th State Senate District is that there is no buzz.”
    With all due respect, even in this politically-active part of California, I’d bet many if not most people couldn’t even name Jerry Hill as our current state senator. Let alone be seriously concerned about a 2020 race.
    Having said that, I’ve been impressed with Josh Becker since I met him at a Democratic event several years ago. He has energy, an upbeat attitude, and an impressive track record in the private and nonprofit sectors, especially with climate change and early education. My sense is he would be a breath of fresh air in Sacramento.

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