Polite Politics

Fremont mayor makes nice

In a bitterly fought campaign for the Alameda County Board of Supervisors District 1 seat this fall, Fremont Mayor Lily Mei laid all her chips on Vinnie Bacon. But, Bacon fell well short of defeating Dublin Mayor David Haubert earlier this month.

It didn’t take long for Mei to jump ship to the supervisor-elect’s camp. A photo posted on Facebook just days after the results of the November election was certain, showed Mei posing with Haubert, among other supporters, at a campaign victory party at a winery in Sunol.

The bond between Mei and Bacon has been evident for several years. The pair strongly supported each other’s campaigns in 2016 for mayor and city council and Mei’s support for Bacon’s supervisorial campaign was seen as a major endorsement last fall.

Mei’s appearance with Haubert so soon after the election is further eye-opening since the issue of disloyalty was a major issue for Bacon. In October, he threatened a Fremont political operative with banishment from the local Democratic Party after learning of his support for Haubert’s campaign.

However, practically-speaking, Mei’s path to embracing Haubert is wise for her own political aspirations and the near-term interests of Fremont, easily the largest city in District 1 and likely one of biggest beneficiaries of the incoming supervisor’s activism at the Board of Supervisors.

Former East Bay legislator enters upcoming campaign

Two years ago, California Democrats flipped seven Republican seats in Congress. This month, Republicans are on the cusp of flipping back four of them, and leading former East Bay legislator Delaine Eastin to enter the upcoming campaign to lead the California Democratic Party.

Eastin threw her hat in the ring on various social media platforms over the weekend, citing a need to expand the party’s base after Democrats lost congressional seats to Republicans for the first time in decades. The GOP gains occurred in Southern California and the Central Valley.

Eastin hopes to follow a dogged, but ultimately unsuccessful underdog bid for governor two years ago, with a campaign to expand the party’s tent, nurture a new bench of future Democrats, expand its donor base and refocus the party on environmental issues.

Eastin’s decision to run for party chair is not based on any single issue or individual, but a “call for arms” to rebuff short-term GOP gains with an “inclusive strategy” for state Democrats to rally behind, she wrote on her campaign website.

“There is great concern expressed that people have left the Democratic party, that we have allowed it to shrink to a handful of special interest groups. Many people do not feel the Party cares about them, or hears their concerns. I was asked if I would consider stepping up to lead the California Democratic Party, to inspire and grow our Party,” Eastin wrote.

California Democrats will hold elections for its party chair next April following January elections across the state for district delegates.

The November election was undoubtedly an inauspicious debut for California Democratic Party Chair Rusty Hicks, a former head of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party. Hicks narrowly defeated Bay Area resident Kimberly Ellis in a hard-fought campaign in 2019 that left a bitter taste for many progressives.

Eastin began her political career as a Union City councilmember before serving the region in the California Assembly for four terms. Eastin later served as state superintendent of public instruction for eight years, ending in 2003.

In 2018, Eastin ran to the left in a large field of gubernatorial candidates as something of a pragmatic progressive. Although she finished a distant sixth in the race, her no-nonsense, plain-spoken debate performances, nonetheless, won her plaudits among state Democrats.

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