It does not seem fair. Catharine Baker’s neighboring office holders State Senator Steve Glazer D-Orinda) and Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) are running for re-election virtually unopposed. At the same time Baker is involved in a tight race fighting for her political life trying to retain her seat in the State Assembly.
With the exception of heavy duty politicos or someone close to a Google application, few people even know the name of the individual who is running against her. Why then is Catharine Baker, who has been acknowledged by virtually every non partisan news outlet to be intelligent, thoughtful, hard working, and free of the influence of special interest groups, struggling so much to get re-elected?
The answer is simple. Catharine Baker has the word “Republican” written behind her name. In the entire Bay Area she is the only member of the legislature representing the GOP. This apparently is a scarlet letter that will not be removed until she is defeated or decides not to seek office.
Virtually all progressives detest Baker even though they will admit in private of their admiration for her work ethic and independence. Despite this she is a Republican whose defeat would mean the Democratic Party would likely have a two thirds “Super Majority” in the Assembly once again. Were this to take place they would be free to raise taxes with impunity. At the same time they would not have to face scrutiny from conservatives an any issues of substance.
If the same criteria Democrats use to evaluate Baker were applied to renting or selling property to racial minorities, they would be branded racists and bigots. Unfortunately, such one sided thinking in the gridlocked-polarized world of American politics today is not only accepted; but revered as well.
In addition, Baker’s difficulty with entrenched advisories on the left does not end with liberal ideologues. As a moderate Republican, she has similar difficulties with conservatives in her own party. Because of being pro-choice and at times stepping over the isle compromising with democrats, some ultra right wingers want to purge the first term Assemblywomen from their ranks as well.
This is the same Agenda 21-Black Helicopter crowd who favors alleged ideological purity over gaining any success at the ballot box. They would prefer to listen to themselves saying “ain’t it awful” at country club gatherings as opposed to having a major influence in the legislature.
Recently they have justified their coolness towards Baker because of her reluctance to support GOP candidate Donald Trump. While this might be a legitimate concern on their part, one might ask where her critics have been the last two years as she has served in the Assembly and been a breath of fresh air in the stagnant Republican Party of California?
Indicative of this turmoil in the GOP, during the past couple of years there have been four changes of leadership on the Contra Costa Republican Central Committee. At the same time this group was of limited assistance to electing Baker, it was virtually worthless in helping a strong candidate Debora Allen progress to the second round in the Assembly race to replace termed out Susan Bonilla in the Assembly.
Indicative of how dysfunctional things have been in the Contra Costa Republican Party, former Vice Chair Hal Bray tendered his resignation after receiving 27 emails one morning of which 26 pertained to different interpretations of Roberts Rules of Order.
While it is true Baker claims that the Republican Party both locally and on a state level has always supported her, it is also known that the level of funds and boots on the ground furnished by Democrats and their allies in labor unions to their candidates, far outstrips the assistance given to her campaign.
Dealing with the assaults of extremists on both ends of the political spectrum, Catharine Baker depends on a delicate coalition of Republicans, moderate Democrats, and a large constituency of “decline to state” independent voters to propel her to office once again. Even the slightest change in the electoral landscape can topple her at any time. With only a slim 55% to 45% advantage to work with from the primary, Baker must continue to do her balancing act and hope outside forces don’t take votes away from her.
Of concern this November, because of the large anti Donald Trump sentiment among usually staunch Republicans, this group might boycott the election. It is also feared that distain for Trump from Democrats and independents may make them reluctant to split the ticket to choose Baker in a seemingly minor race.
This scenario for a close election in the 16th District has not escaped Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount). After the June 2nd primary he commented about the Baker race this is a “top pickup opportunity” for Assembly Democrats and promised to spend what it takes to win the seat. During his discourse on defeating Baker, Rendon never mentioned her opponents name.
This is consistent with other Democrats who place more emphasis on defeating the Republican from Dublin than supporting her advisory Cheryl Cook-Kallio, former Vice Mayor of Pleasanton. Her web site is sparse in details dealing with important issues saying:
“A celebrated public school teacher respected Pleasanton City Council member and tireless community activist Cheryl has fought to: enhance public education, increase affordable housing options, improve streets and roads, and make our community safer.”
Her web site advocates pouring more money into public schools with no accountability, It states Cook-Kallio will continue to be a champion for women and families, take on the fight for equal pay for equal work. She is in favor of increased background checks for gun owners and wants to invest in infrastructure projects to assist in building the economy. These stands are consistent with those of most Democrats holding office in the legislature
Despite lacking specifics on dealing with pension and budget deficits, educational reform, cap and trade, quality jobs leaving California, BART strikes, and a host of important issues, we can look for a flood of brochures to flood mail boxes in the 16th District prior to election day extolling Cook-Kallio’s virtues.
It will then up to voters to determine what is most important to them. Will being a Democrat “trump”, (no pun intended) the quality of the opponent in the Assembly race. Baker, with her back to the wall as usual, hopes that her constituents will be able to discern facts as opposed to the absurd propaganda Political Action Committees (PAC) will be dispensing prior to November 8th.
Assuming that “the force is with her” and Baker triumphs, perhaps it will be appropriate that the GOP gives the Assemblywomen the long overdue recognition she so richly deserves. In this case this would be bestowing a leadership role to her in the Republican hierarchy of the State Assembly
This would signify that Catharine Baker has more than fulfilled Al Davis’s motto,” Just win baby.”