Contra Costa Times: Lone Republican quits East Bay state Senate election

Contra Costa Times
February 2, 2015
By Josh Richman

The only Republican in the East Bay's 7th State Senate District special election dropped out Monday and endorsed a Democrat, less than a week after the candidates' list became official.

Michaela Hertle, a cloud-computing executive from Pleasanton who has never run for office before, issued a statement saying she's throwing her support to centrist Democrat Steve Glazer, Orinda's mayor and Gov. Jerry Brown's former campaign advisor.

"I cannot establish the funding, name recognition and support required to win this election against this field of Democratic candidates within a six-week period," she said, adding Glazer "can work with Republicans and Democrats alike to find common sense solutions to our state's needs."

Republicans make up 29 percent of the district's voters, so if they take heed, Hertle's endorsement could help Glazer -- who has burned most bridges with his own party and the unions that back it -- vie with the race's two more prominent Democrats, Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla and former Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan. Democrat Terry Kremin, a psychology lecturer who sought Concord City Council seats in 2010 and 2012, also is running.

But it's too late for Hertle to be removed from the ballot, so voters who don't know she dropped out might still vote for her.

The special primary will be held March 17; if nobody gets more than 50 percent of the primary vote, the special general election will be held May 19.

Hertle praised Glazer's fiscal conservatism; his support of public-pension and school reform; and his willingness to buck unions and other special interests. Republicans "have more commonalities with him than differences and he can win this race," she said.

Glazer called Hertle's endorsement "a big boost."

"I've promoted a bipartisan experience and track record and her endorsement is a great validation," he said. "It underscores what makes my candidacy unique."

Glazer incurred unions' wrath by working in 2012 as a strategist for the California Chamber of Commerce's JobsPAC, which backed moderate Democrats over more liberal, labor-friendly ones. And in 2013, he capitalized on public outrage over two BART strikes by urging a ban on transit worker strikes -- an idea opposed by many Democrats.

The 7th District seat, representing central and eastern Contra Costa County plus Alameda County's Tri-Valley area, came open when Democrat Mark DeSaulnier was sworn in last month to succeed Rep. George Miller in Congress.

Buchanan may have a name-recognition edge: The 16th Assembly District seat from which she was term-limited out in 2014 overlaps much more of this senate district than Bonilla's 14th Assembly District.

But Bonilla, D-Concord, so far has more prominent endorsements including DeSaulnier's. Over the weekend she also picked up the California Democratic Party's nod, though some Buchanan backers grumbled that Bonilla used a soon-to-be-abolished bylaw to pack the local caucus meeting with supporters.

Bonilla spokesman Patrick McGarrity said Monday that Bonilla is the Democratic Party's choice while "Steve Glazer is the choice of delegates from the Alameda County Republican Party."

Bonilla, Buchanan and Glazer will spar in a forum at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Lafayette Library and Learning Center, sponsored by the Contra Costa Young Democrats; they'll meet again at noon the following Wednesday, Feb. 11, for a forum in Walnut Creek sponsored by the East Bay Leadership Council.