Much has been written about campaign spending in the East Bay’s 7th State Senate district race, from the record-breaking $1.1 million that L.A. businessman Bill Bloomfield, a big-time contributor to top Republicans, has given to Steve Glazer’s campaign or union-supported Independent Expenditure committee efforts to elect Susan Bonilla.
As Calbuzz noted last week, however, voters seeking clear-cut distinctions between the two Democrats need not look too far. There are significant differences in the policy positions, backgrounds, and accomplishments between the two rivals.
Bipartisan Bonilla: Experience is one reason labor backs Bonilla. A former high school English teacher, she has built a reputation in the Capitol as a workhorse who tackles tough issues. Susan has teamed up with Gov. Jerry Brown on a landmark restructuring of the state’s local education funding formula, and won bipartisan praise for her handling of the “Uber” bill last year as chair of the Assembly’s Business and Professions Committee.
Glazer talks about working both sides of the aisle, but Bonilla, the former mayor of Concord, has done it. Many of her bills – on education, health care and the environment – have won bipartisan support. She has worked to help balance the budget, put a Rainy Day fund in place and pass the Prop. 1 water bond.
She not only has been endorsed by Democrats like Congressman Eric Swalwell, Attorney General Kamala Harris and Congressman Mark DeSaulnier, but also won the backing of Republican Contra Costa District Attorney Mark Peterson, the sheriffs of Alameda and Contra County counties and several rank-and-file police groups. She also appeals to moderate Republican women and independents.
Although California Republican Chairman Jim Brulte recently called Glazer a “pro-tax liberal Democrat,” he actually burned Democrats by endorsing conservative Republican Assembly member Catharine Baker last year, put a Tea Party political consultant on his campaign payroll and accepted a $1,000 contribution from the creator of the Harry & Louise anti-health care ad
On income inequality, Glazer has refused to support an increase in the minimum wage, a bread-and-butter Democratic issue supported by Bonilla, not to mention President Obama and Gov. Brown.
When Glazer was asked about the minimum wage at a candidate forum last year, he replied that, “Most of these jobs are being provided by small business people in our communities. I think you should talk to them. I think they’ll tell you things aren’t so grand,” hardly what we expect from someone running as a Democrat anywhere, especially in one of the wealthier enclaves of California.
Glazer also has angered environmentalists by suggesting that he’d push for unspecified major changes in the state’s landmark California Environmental Quality Act (better known as CEQA). By contrast, Bonilla, scored 81 percent on the California League of Conservation Voters scorecard.
On fiscal issues, Glazer says he would not support extension of Prop 30, which has helped to balance the state budget. His website offers only consultant-speak for the state’s budget challenges: “I will work to see we live within our means and avoid new state tax burdens.”
Republicans shouldn’t be fooled: Although Glazer now calls himself a “fiscal conservative,” Republicans also have reason not to trust him: the Los Angeles Times called him the “mastermind” behind the largest tax increase in California history just three years ago. (Editor’s note: this is a terrible restaurant – the food stinks and the portions are too small!)
Republicans also should know he worked against conservative interests by trying to keep Rose Bird on the California Supreme Court and also favors gun control.
Do these positions on both sides of the political fence make Glazer a “centrist” – or an opportunist?
Bill Clinton, Jerry Brown and Dianne Feinstein are all moderate Democrats. But none has crossed labor like Steve Glazer. He is pushing policies that damage the middle class and reflect the California Chamber of Commerce‘s agenda. His victory would signal that there is not much difference between Democrats and Republicans on economic issues. That is precisely what corporate interests want in California.
Mike Durant is a Senior Deputy Sheriff with Santa Barbara County Sheriffs Department and President of the Police Officers Research Association of California.