This week, Politico reported that Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, who is termed out at the end of her current term, announced she will not run for the 7th Senate seat. She and Steve Glazer engaged in a multi-million dollar campaign earlier this year to determine who will finish the term of now-Congressman Mark DeSaulnier. It was a bruising Democrat vs. Democrat battle that drew lots of money from outside interest groups as well as plenty from interested organizations in the state. Labor backed Bonilla, while business interests from both parties lined up for Glazer.
The other non-rematch will be in the 16th Assembly District where Republican Catharine Baker won a tough fight over former Dublin Mayor Tim Sbranti. Like Bonilla, Sbranti had strong backing from labor unions, while Baker put together a coalition of Republicans and independents to take the seat.
Sbranti joined Congressman Eric Swalwell's staff last summer and took himself out of the potential rematch.
With Democratic turnout expected to increase significantly in 2016 with both the presidential race and the campaign to replace retiring Senator Barbara Boxer on the ballot, both Glazer and Baker were anticipated to face tough re-election challenges.
In her first year, Baker has worked across the aisle to guide four of her measures to the governor's desk. The first one was very important—requiring the Bay Area bridge toll authority to abide by the state's opening meeting act. That's the group that oversaw the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge—a project that more than tripled in cost to more than $6 billion with questions still unresolved about the long-term durability of the bridge.
Her latest bill, co-authored with Democrat Mike Gatto, requires that the State Dept. of Education establish guidelines and identify best practices to prevent child-abuse in schools and school programs.
Earlier this fall, the Bay Area News Group reported that, surprisingly, no elected Democrat had stepped forward to challenge her re-election. The Democratic Party still holds the registration edge, but a coalition of independents and Republicans easily can offset that edge as Baker demonstrated in 2014.
Of course, her signature bill, AB 528 to close the loophole that allowed BART workers to strike twice in 2013 despite a no-strike clause in labor contract, will continue in the legislative process in 2016. It was held in the Assembly Public Employees, Retirement and Social Security Committee which will continue work next year.
The hold of state public employee unions on Democratic legislators has lessened as business-oriented groups have helped elect more moderate Democrats such as Glazer in the last few years. Glazer consulted for one of those groups before running for office two years later. Those campaigns recognized the reality that, despite redistricting by commission, there are districts where campaigns will be Dem vs. Dem in the general elections and there are Democrats who are not beholden to public employee unions.