Sac Bee--Steve Glazer relishes role of maverick

Sacramento Bee
February 16, 2015
By Dan Walters

WALNUT CREEK – When Mark DeSaulnier was in the Legislature he was something of a maverick, willing to buck the Democratic leadership on occasion – most notably as one of three senators to oppose Gov. Jerry Brown’s bullet train.

With DeSaulnier now in Congress, Steve Glazer is running for his 7th Senate District seat, claiming his maverick mantle and opposing Brown on several issues. And that seems strange, at least superficially, because Glazer has a decades-long relationship with Brown that includes managing his 2010 campaign for governor.

Their differences include the bullet train, with Glazer lamenting the “billions of dollars we’re spending on high-speed rail” instead of deteriorating highways.

“Our priorities are a little bit out of whack,” Glazer said last week during a joint appearance with his two Democratic rivals, Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla and former Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, before an assemblage of local political and business figures.

Glazer also opposes Brown’s twin tunnels to carry water under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (as do Bonilla and Buchanan) and criticizes the legislation that Brown signed to cap local school district reserves.

The reserve cap was a prime example of Capitol gamesmanship. At the last minute and at Brown’s behest, it was inserted into a budget trailer bill as an apparent political sop to the California Teachers Association.

Buchanan and Bonilla voted for the cap, but both told the forum they now want it changed.

Despite his opposition to Brown on several fronts, however, Glazer insists that he’s not alienated from his old friend and mentor. He supports the governor’s insistence that the sales and income tax increase Brown persuaded voters to pass in 2012 be temporary.

Glazer describes himself as “fiscally conservative” and is enjoying some Republican support, which could be decisive. He jumped on his rivals for, he said, supporting additional taxes. “I think we need to hold the line on taxes,” he said.

Bonilla, clearly the most liberal of the three, didn’t shy away from extending the 2012 tax measure or enacting some other revenue increase, while Buchanan punted, saying, “we should let the voters decide.”

It’s unlikely that any of the three will get a majority of the March 17 primary vote to win the seat outright, so they really are vying for the top two spots that would get them into the May 19 runoff.

Unions are divided between Bonilla and Buchanan but united in opposing Glazer, who has been sharply critical of unions and earned their enmity by advising the state Chamber of Commerce on political strategy.

If Glazer makes the runoff, he’s likely to get business backing. Some groups may hold back, however, if Bonilla is his opponent. She chairs the Assembly Business and Professions Committee, which controls much business-related legislation.