Claremont Insider: 59th Assembly District News

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

59th Assembly District News


Now that the primary elections are over, the November general election for the 59th Assembly District, which includes Claremont, is shaping up. Republican Tim Donnelly will square off against Democrat Darcel Woods.

The money race usually tells a lot, though this year the dynamics may be different. Donnelly won a very close primary race over Chris Lancaster in June. Donnelly's margin of victory was 631 votes and can be viewed as a sign of grassroots voter discontent this year with Donnelly, a self-described "tea party Republican," beating his party's insider candidate. Lancaster spent far more money than Donnelly ($167,000 to $23,500, respectively), but Donnelly still won.

According to the California Secretary of State's records, as of June 30 Donnelly's campaign had $626.78 in cash. The largest donor was Anna McBride in Palm Desert, who donated a total of $3,400.

Darcel Woods' campaign reported raising a total of $22,575 for the period from 1/1/10 to 6/30/10. Woods had $3,789.35 in cash remaining at of June 30. Woods' big contributors were unions:

  • Service Employees International Union United Long-Term Care Workers Local 6434 State PAC - $7,800

  • United Domestic Workers of America Action Fund - $3,900

  • SEIU Local 721, CTW CLW State and Local - $3,900

  • Service Employees International Union 121RN PAC - $1,500

  • UAW Region 5 Western States PAC - $1,000

  • California Teachers Association for Better Citizenship - $500

  • United Transportation Union PAC - $500

The money Woods has raised is almost certainly an indication that Democratic Party supporters feel that Woods has a chance against Donnelly. This is certainly a change for an assembly district that has traditionally been a safe Republican seat. With redistricting on the horizon, it's likely that whatever replaces the 59th will be much more evenly divide between the two parties, so if Woods were to get in, she would presumably have an incumbent's advantage in subsequent elections.

A win by Woods might put a crimp in Claremont Mayor Pro Tem Sam Pedroza's long term plans. We suspect Pedroza may have been planning his own campaign in the 59th or its successor district. If Pedroza were ever to get elected from this area, he'd break a long losing streak by Claremont city council members in state legislative races. Sandy Baldonado, Al Leiga, and Corey Calaycay all failed in their bids to get represent our area in Sacramento.

The Daily Bulletin has an article today on the 59th Assembly race that mentions the idea that Woods may be able to appeal to moderate Republicans in the district. However, CMC's Jack Pitney thinks the election dynamics this year favor Republicans, and that may blunt any advantage Woods would traditionally have with moderates over Donnelly:
This is the kind of race where Democrats might have a very strong shot in another year," said Jack Pitney, a Claremont McKenna College political science professor who has said Democrats are battling Republican momentum this year. "But even so, it's not completely out of reach for them."

If Woods wins, she might represent the final vote Democrats in the Assembly need to solidify a two-thirds majority, an important benchmark in California politics. That thinking played a part in the union's decision, [SEIU-United Long Term Care Workers Local 6434 spokesman Wyatt] Closs said.


Speaking of the 59th district, current Assembly 59 representative Anthony Adams was quoted in the Daily Bulletin today. You'll recall that Adams chose not to seek reelection after angering Republicans for supporting last year's state budget agreement. Because he was one of a handful of Republicans in the state legislature who crossed the aisle to get the budget passed, Adams drew the ire of a good many Republican voters and would probably have faced a tough primary campaign.

The Bulletin article quoted Adams' comments on the possible regulation of campaign-related content on social media sites like Twitter or Facebook. The Bulletin piece said that California's Fair Political Practices Commission asked one of its subcommittees to look into the issue. The commission will consider the suggestions from the subcommittee next week.

Here's what the Bulletin said about the recommendations (we've included the Adams' quote):
Campaigns would face the same disclosure rules they do now, such as identifying who is financially behind an ad, but, for the first time, they would apply to Internet communication.

The report draws a line between paid political activity and unpaid grass-roots efforts. Political commentary by people unconnected to a campaign would not be affected, nor would sending or forwarding e-mails, linking to websites or creating independent websites.


"In order to keep our system honest, we need watchdogs," Adams said. "What these disclosures end up achieving is putting watchdogs, self-appointed or otherwise, in a position to maintain some integrity in the political campaigning area."

Jack Pitney, by the way, was quoted in this article as well.