CA-35 Update

One of the many flaws of California’s term limits law is that it creates needless conflict and enmity between would-be allies each vying to do their part to make the State a better place, as each candidate is forced to abandon a job they have just barely learned, to campaign for a different job.  Conflicts arise in this perpetual game of musical chairs, accountability is minimal, and activists are left in a jam deciding whom to support.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in AD-35, where Assemblymember Pedro Nava has been termed out, forcing a run at the Attorney General job.  The power vacuum left by Nava’s absence has opened the field for two impressive candidates, both of whom are well-liked in the district: Susan Jordan, Mr. Nava’s wife and co-founder of the California Coastal Protection Network (CCPN) and Vote The Coast, and Das Williams, Santa Barbara City Councilman and longtime community activist through CAUSE as their legislative analyst.  Williams also serves as a national board member of the National Organization for Women, and is on the Peabody Charter School Board.

The Republican banner will be carried by former Santa Barbara County Supervisor Mike Stoker.  However, given the 20-point voter registration advantage favoring Democrats in the district, the winner of the Democratic primary is almost certain to hold this safe Democratic seat.

Most activists here in the Ventura and Santa Barbara areas know each of these individuals well, and have worked with them on multiple issues.  As the race intensifies, it is painful for many to make a choice between them, and many have avoided doing so to date.  I personally have endorsed Mr. Williams, having worked with him on a number of different issues here already in less than a year of local activism, while my contact with Ms. Jordan has been more limited.  Each candidate has amassed a long list of endorsers (in-fighting remains about who exactly has endorsed whom at this point, adding to the confusion), and a large number remain on the fence.  Ms. Jordan’s biggest ally, obviously, is Assemblymember Nava; Mr. Williams, however, counters with the almost equally hard-hitting support of Hannah-Beth Jackson, whom he served as Chief of Staff in the SD-19 2008 election.

On a personal level, there is already significant rancor between the two sides: while both have promised a positive campaign, and neither candidate has made overt attacks on the other, various operatives have been busy attempting to earn support with some negative charges.  Williams is extremely active in the community and had expected to be next in line for the spot; his backers have hinted at nepotism between Nava and Jordan; Jordan backers paint Das as overly ambitious and opportunistic because Williams previously ran unsuccessfully for Supervisor, because of his comparative youth at 34 years of age, and because many say that Williams had told them earlier in the year that he would not run for the seat.  Williams is in his second term on the Santa Barbara City Council, and will be termed out–needlessly adding increased stakes under the guise of “reform” through term limits.

Also an issue in the race is the vaunted PXP drilling at Tranquillon Ridge: during the early days of the proposed deal, Williams backed a variety of local environmental organizations in supporting the deal.  Jordan and Nava were opposed, due to precedent and the belief, later reinforced by various agencies, that the deal’s sunset provision would be unenforceable.  The deal eventually became the famous statewide issue it is today, and it is sure to be a major attack avenue against Mr. Williams by Ms. Jordan.

To date, the race is playing out similar to the Clinton-Obama primary war in a battle between youth/change and experience/responsibility–but with an added wrinkle.  While Mr. Williams is young, he also boasts greater experience in elected office, particularly in the field of balancing budgets, an issue particularly crucial to Assembly candidates.  Mr. Williams has repeatedly referenced Santa Barbara’s continued balanced budgets as proof of his ability to make difficult budget choices in a progressive fashion in a tough economic environment, and contrasted his record in Santa Barbara with that of the legislature in Sacramento (somewhat unfairly, as the SB city council is not hamstrung by a 2/3 rule).  Ms. Jordan, meanwhile, will be running ostensibly (and probably unfairly) to the left of Mr. Williams on environmental issues, will be leveraging her longstanding statewide activism, and will portray herself as something of an outsider to the political process despite her connection with Mr. Nava, while attempting to frame Mr. Williams as a career politician.

It is in this somewhat unpleasant context that the Williams campaign released their surprisingly strong fundraising numbers yesterday evening (the Jordan campaign released its own press release this afternoon.)  While it was expected that Ms. Jordan would outraise Mr. Williams due to greater large-scale institutional support and an earlier head start (including a high-profile fundraiser at the home of Pierce Brosnan), the campaigns are essentially even in terms of fundraising, with each campaign spinning the numbers as coming out in their favor: the Williams campaign is emphasizing Jordan’s $12,000 loan to her own campaign to even up the numbers, while the Jordan campaign is emphasizing its $10,000 advantage in cash on hand.

The full text of the competing press releases follows below the fold:

Local Santa Barbara City Councilman Das Williams Outraises Main Opponent In Campaign for Assembly District 35

Santa Barbara, CA – Showing that local residents are looking for a new kind of elected leader in Sacramento, local Santa Barbara City Councilman Das Williams today reports having raised over $120,000 in his campaign for Assembly District 35 as of the June 30th reporting deadline.  In significantly less time, Das Williams outraised his main opponent Susan Jordan – wife of the District’s current Assemblymember Pedro Nava – who raised $110,000.

Das’ strong financial showing complements his already strong grassroots network and growing list of local endorsers and supporters.  

“Das Williams raised more money than Susan Jordan in just half the time,” said campaign spokesperson Josh Pulliam.  “Loaded with a $12,500 personal loan and strapped with unpaid debt, Susan Jordan’s financial report comes straight out of the same Sacramento playbook that brought us a historic budget crisis.  These financial reports illustrate that voters in the district are ready for change.   As a local councilmember, Das already represents nearly a quarter of the Assembly District, and today’s numbers prove that he’s going to have the necessary resources to mount a successful campaign.”

Das Williams is campaigning to succeed termed-out Assemblymember Pedro Nava.  

Das Williams grew up on the Central Coast and is a product of local public schools. In 2003, Das Williams became the youngest person ever to be elected to the Santa Barbara City Council, and was re-elected in 2007. Das has worked as a teacher, a policy aide for former Assemblywoman Hannah-Beth Jackson, and a community organizer working to stop the development of a Wal-Mart in Ventura and enact local living wage laws in Santa Barbara and Ventura. Das serves on the Peabody Charter School Board and is a national board member of the National Organization for Women (NOW). Das received his undergraduate degree from the University of California at Berkeley and holds a graduate degree in Environmental Science & Management from the University of California at Santa Barbara.

Jordan Shows Strong Support for Assembly District 35 Race

“Never before has it been so important that we make fundamental changes to the way of doing business in Sacramento. The voters know that fixing the problems won’t be easy, and it will take someone with experience, integrity and determination to stand up to the special interests,” said Assembly candidate Susan Jordan.  “The people in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties who encouraged me to run have backed up their encouragement with campaign contributions. In my first run for elective office, I am inspired by their early show of support.”

Jordan leads fundraising for the primary election, which will be held June 8, 2010, with an impressive $124,129 raised between January 1 and June 30.  Jordan notes that she is very fiscally conservative, spent little during that period, and has $119,228.07 cash on hand.

Jordan added, “I am deeply honored to have the help of so many local and statewide leaders who have placed their trust in my abilities to get the job done, including Santa Barbara County Supervisor Janet Wolf, Oxnard Mayor Tom Holden, Oxnard City Council members Bryan MacDonald and Dr. Irene Pinkard, Former State Senator Sheila Kuehl, Former Santa Barbara County Supervisor Susan Rose, Former Santa Barbara Mayor Harriet Miller, and many more.”

Jordan is an award-winning environmental leader, a successful business woman, health advocate and mother with 15 years of experience working to protect the coastline of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties – and for all of California.  As a former Chair of the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission, Jordan tackled regional planning concerns with an analytical and balanced approach.  After leaving her business career, Jordan founded the California Coastal Protection Network (CCPN) in 1999 and serves as its executive director.  CCPN is considered one of the most effective environmental advocacy organizations in the state and Jordan has received numerous awards for her precedent-setting work.

Jordan is being challenged by Das Williams.  Williams initially supported Jordan, and stated in the Santa Barbara Independent that he would not run and that his own personal ambitions would have to take a back seat for the “greater good of the community,” while praising Jordan’s environmental credentials and statewide connections.  Williams and Jordan split largely over the issue of offshore oil drilling, with Williams supporting a proposal to open the coast to new drilling, while Jordan opposed it.  Jordan is leading a statewide coalition of more than 60 groups who oppose the governor’s efforts to approve the first new offshore oil lease in state waters in 40 years.

“As I walk this district, people tell me that they want someone in Sacramento who has life experience and can be trusted to stand up to special interests and address the serious challenges facing our state, our economy and our livelihoods.  This is a responsibility I take to heart. I will not let them down,” said Jordan.

Susan Jordan for Assembly 2010

Ending cash    $119,228.07

Das Williams for Assembly 2010

Ending cash    $108,767.62

Susan Jordan for Assembly 2010

Reporting period    01/01/2009 – 06/30/2009

Contributions from this period    $124,129.00

Expenditures from this period    $11,006.82

Ending cash    $119,228.07

Das Williams for Assembly 2010

Reporting period    01/01/2009 – 06/30/2009

Contributions from this period    $122,656.08

Expenditures from this period    $13,988.46

Ending cash    $108,767.62

Republican challenger Mike Stoker has not filed any reports.

Given the heated nature of the releases even at this early stage, this will an interesting race to watch going forward.

18 thoughts on “CA-35 Update”

  1. Susan Jordan is an award-winning environmental leader, a businesswoman, health advocate and mother with 15 years of experience

    working to protect the coastline of Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties – and for all of California.

    She has real-life experience meeting a payroll, managing a business, and raising a child while dedicating her career to the betterment of the community.

    Most voters in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties know Susan Jordan – the founder and executive director of the California Coastal Protection Network – as an environmental advocate, fighting to protect our coast as a natural resource – and a recreational and economic resource. She also co-founded Vote the Coast.

    But few know that Susan worked as a business management consultant for nearly 15 years, and before that as a women’s health advocate. She not only managed and supervised the staff of the research arm of a large national firm – she also taught health and pregnancy prevention to public high school students.

    After earning her master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania, Susan served as Director of Community Relations for the Women’s Medical Center in Washington, D.C. In addition to teaching health and pregnancy prevention to high school students, working with the National Women’s Health Network, she gained her first experience as a public policy advocate on women’s health and reproductive issues.

    Susan came to California and continued working as a management consultant, and eventually left her business career to devote herself to environmental protection. She and the California Coastal Protection Network have played a leading role in the successful public policy fights against large-scale, precedent setting coastal development projects including federal offshore oil leasing, Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminal siting, and protecting and restoring state parks and wetlands.

    In 2007, Susan helped lead the defeat of BHP Billiton’s proposal to build an LNG terminal off the coast of Southern California. In 2008, she helped lead the defeat of the Transportation Corridor Agency’s proposal to build a Toll Road through San Onofre State Park – an effort which was recognized by the Environment Now foundation as one of the top Environmental Achievements in Southern California in 2008.

    Since 1998, Susan has been an effective advocate for key strategic environmental laws, including ground-breaking legislation on coastal land use regulation (SB 497-Sher) and LNG siting standards (SB 426-Simitian, SB 412-Simitian).

    Susan has also served as Chair and Member of the Santa Barbara Planning Commission (2002-2005), Board Member for the League for Coastal Protection (1996-2000) and Board Member for Santa Barbara Channelkeeper (present). She was recognized as Volunteer of the Year by the National Oceans and Atmospheric Administration in 1997; and received the Wells Family Award for Coastal Protection by Environment Now in 1999; Ecological Integrity Award by the Ventura Chapter of Earth Charter in 2005; and the Environmental Hero Award by the Environmental Defense Center in 2006.

    She earned her Masters of Social Work in 1978 at the University of Pennsylvania, and her Bachelor of Arts in 1974 from the State

    University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY.

  2. …there’s no better term for term-limits.

    As the GOP Shock Doctrine begins to take effect, this is probably a good time to be asking the voters: “Was life in California better before term limits, or after?” (apologies to Ronald Reagan).

    Any thoughts why Prop-93 failed in 2008?

    My sense is that the voters in 1990 weren’t as concerned about their own legislators as they were about the powerful (and highly visible) legislative leaders (OK… Willie Brown) who seemed to be forever thwarting the will of our Republican Governors. Even democratic voters seemed a little embarrassed by the “machine” aspect of it all. Too few stood up against term limits as a result.

    This is not my preference, but I wonder if some kind of term limits on the offices of Assembly Speaker and Senate President ProTem would satisfy enough voters to restore some sanity to our representation?

    The Speaker’s job is just a shadow of what it was in Brown’s day. Any further restrictions would be only cosmetic.

  3. I do disagree with David on his line “neither candidate has made overt attacks on the other.”

    I would say Williams’ fundraising press release shown here is about as overt an attack piece as I have seen. This was really unnecessary. And I am not exactly sure how he arrived at his math, either, in putting her fundraising at $110,000 when she reported $124,129. Even if you subtract the $12,500 loan she made to her campaign (and aren’t most candidates encouraged to contribute to their own campaigns?) that would put her at nearly $112,000. I guess Das’ campaign decided to round down.

    Given this fuzzy math, I guess Meg Whitman has raised about $1.49 for her campaign, huh? 🙂

  4. just really tired of swinging door politics. Let’s get new blood into that seat instead of a family member. Don’t like it with the Stricklands both in Sacramento on the Gov’t dole…wouldn’t like it if the Dems do it.

    Let’s see how this pans out…I’m sure the oil tinged mud will be flung.

  5. Atkins vs. Lakin – Can’t wait to see the cyber-donkey meat flying when these two go toe-to-to toe on various blogs.

    As to whether or not the 2010 Jordan vs. Williams 35th A.D. Primary fight will morph into the Central Coast’s version of the 2008 Clinton vs. Obama Primary slug-fest, well only time will tell..

    I look forward to spirited and passionate debate between Ms. Jordan and Mr. Williams, regarding the critical issues of the day facing California voters in general, and Democratic Primary voters in the 35th AD. Issues like:

    How best to create high-paying and high-value jobs for Californians, not low-skilled, and low-wage, non-union jobs that can be easily outsourced to foreign countries by State Legislators that pay lip-service to working class values only to earn votes, but betray them quickly once they get to Sacramento.

    How best to promote solidarity amongst the working class families in both the private and public sectors, instead of passing State budgets which cynically divide them by burdening private sector working class families with higher State taxes and fees in order to preserve public sector family jobs.

    How best to incentivize small businesses to stay in California rather than flee to other States to avoid outrageous bureaucrats, regulations and stifling taxes and fees..

    How best to invest scarce public funds for the betterment of students and teachers in this State. And not squander them on highly paid educational bureaucrats in Sacramento and local Superintendent’s offices who, with help from NCLB, are trying their hardest to turn teachers into test givers and students into test takers. Not critically-thinking, creative, productive and informed adults and citizens.

    How best to close egregious State tax loopholes for rich, corporate elites in the Hollywood and Silicon Valley industries who lavish political contributions on their bought and paid-for candidates for the State Assembly and Senate, as they outsource more and more California jobs to foreign countries every day.

    How best to enact a severance tax on oil, a high-value commodity which belongs to the people of the State as their birthright, not to mega-wealthy, multi-national corporations, with offshore tax shelters specifically designed to avoid State and Federal taxes. After all, if Huey Long could do it for the people of Louisiana in the early 20th Century, and Sarah Palin could do it for the people of Alaska in the early 21st Century, Arnie and the boys and girls of the State Legislature in California should be able to do it today.

    Finally, there is word on the Democratic street that a highly-successful Oxnard environmental businessman, who is a Democrat with tons of money, is giving serious thought to entering the Democratic Primary race in the 35th A.D. With Oxnard being the largest city in the 35th A.D., that would be quite a game changer in this contested race.

    Anyway, as the old Chinese proverb says, “..May we all live in interesting times..”


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