And now, it seems, there’s four candidates for the local State Assembly race.
Unless anyone else jumps in. Or out.
Berkeley City Councilmember Kriss Worthington, attorney Charles Ramsey, Oakland City Councilmember Jane Brunner and David Brown, chief of staff to Oakland Supervisor Alice Lai Bitker – are candidates for the 14th Assembly District seat to be vacated by term-limited Assemblymember Dion Aroner.
In an interview Monday, Worthington said he had finally made a decision - just that morning – to plunge into the race. Before announcing the decision, he had waited for the other potential candidates who share his progressive politics to make up their minds – poet/professor June Jordan, El Cerrito Councilmember Mark Friedman, environmentalist and former Berkeley Councilmember Nancy Skinner and Berkeley Councilmember Linda Maio all decided they would not seek the post. Worthington had said he would not run against any of them.
On the other hand, Brunner confirmed she’s in the race. “I’m definitely running,” she said Monday. She’s been getting endorsements and she’s been fundraising, but declined to say how much money she’s raised before she has to report it to the state. She’s not without endorsers with deep pockets – Mayor Jerry Brown and Supervisor Don Perata among them.
And Brunner’s got deep ties to labor, which generally means money and active phone banks. As a teacher in Berkeley, she was a member of the Berkeley Federation of Teachers negotiating team and, when she became an attorney, she worked for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
A good chunk of Brunner’s funds will likely go to pay for the services of her high-priced campaign consultant, Larry Tramutola.
Worthington, an unabashed progressive who’s in the middle of his second city council stint, said he’s not afraid of Brunner’s fundraising ability. He said he’s always won his campaigns on the work of foot soldiers and expects to raise about half of the $400,000 he estimates Brunner will raise.
Worthington said stepping into the role of assemblymember will allow him to work on various questions – including senior, disabled, school and labor issues – on another level. Is David Brown a threat? “I’ve never heard of him,” Worthington said, adding that if Brown’s a cross between June Jordan and Franklin Roosevelt, he’d pull out of the race.
Dave Brown said he is almost definitely running. “I’m in the process of talking to people,” he said. Brown, who lives in Oakland, was born in Berkeley and raised in El Sobrante. He attended Stanford University where he said he was a student activist, working to promote multi-cultural education.
He’s experienced in running campaigns for others, including Assemblymember Wilma Chan’s supervisoral campaign. He said he expects she will endorse him. Brown said he also worked on the national Jesse Jackson campaign.
In an interview Monday, El Cerrito City Councilmember Mark Friedman said he decided not to make the grueling run in order to continue the work he’s doing with the Alameda County Children and Families Commission, distributing Proposition 10 (tobacco tax) funds. “I figure I could do more good continuing to do the work I’m doing now,” Friedman said.
While he said he believed he could win the race, Friedman said the task of fundraising was daunting and term limits meant that almost as soon as he got into office, he’d be looking around for another job.
John Delrymple, head of the Contra Costa Central Labor Council, has reportedly also pulled out of the race. He was unavailable on Monday.
Richmond resident Charles Ramsey, who could not be reached Monday, announced his candidacy several months ago. His supporters at that time included Richmond Councilmembers Irma Anderson and Tom Butts, as well as moderate former Berkeley Councilmember Mary Wainwright. A member of the West Contra Costa School Board, Ramsey says he has promoted “progressive” labor practices in the district, including his support for domestic partner benefits.
A great unknown is whether the 14th Assembly District will be redesigned as a result of the 2000 census. The district runs from North Oakland through Emeryville and Berkeley, up through ALbany and El Cerrito, to San Pablo and Richmond. The district is heavily Democrat and most observers see the Democratic primary in March 2002 as the race to be won.
Candidates were to appear Monday night at Contra Costa Central Labor Council endorsement interviews. The labor organization’s decision will likely be finalized in several weeks.