This week, Danville Mayor Candace Andersen trounced Community College Board Director Tomi Van de Brooke (60% to 27%) in an election for Contra Costa County Supervisor in District 2. Sean White, who didn’t raise money but ran on election reform, gained nearly 12% of the vote.
Incumbent Supervisor Gayle Uilkema passed away in May after a two-year battle with ovarian cancer. Had neither candidate received the requisite 50%+1, Governor Brown would be able to step in to appoint a caretaker or successor. Now it seems evident that he can reinforce the people’s will and install Andersen as the next Supervisor.
In a county where the term “soccer moms” was coined, Andersen focused on fiscal issues, pragmatism, and pension reform while Van de Brooke focused on social issues. Democrats hold a slight 3.3% voter registration advantage. Voting trends favor Democrats in this swing district which includes Lafayette, Moraga, and Orinda as well as the San Ramon Valley communities of Danville, Alamo, and San Ramon.
Building trades poured $50,000 in independent expenditures supporting Van de Brooke. Planned Parenthood also came to her aide with allegations that Andersen refused to answer the organization’s standard questionnaire. (If you’ve seen the questionnaire, you’d understand why not answering it is the right call). The organization’s Coalition for Women’s Health, an IE committee, raised $6,000 including funding from Planned Parenthood’s PAC and Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan.
Andersen ran a shoe-string campaign focused on superior Internet marketing while Van de Brooke appeared to run a traditional mail campaign with “hit pieces” focused on Andersen’s Mormon religion and abortion rights. Andersen’s online presence and accuracy in identifying voters allowed her to pivot and re-define issues in a moment’s time. When she was hit at least four times in the last week with negative mailers questioning her views, she quickly responded. Her banner ads were online everywhere district voters went when seeking information.
Andersen had the support of the incumbent Supervisor, the Contra Costa Deputy Sheriff’s Association, Contra Costa D.A. Mark Peterson, the Lincoln Club of Northern California, and the county’s sheriff Dave Livingston. The law enforcement mailers are here.
At this very volatile time in our national political dialogue, female voters are paying more attention and getting more of their information from sources they trust on the Internet. As Democrats accuse Republicans of being against contraception and a women’s access to health care, Republicans call the Democrat war on women a “fairytale”. Catholics look at the “contraception issue” as a religious freedom issue that extends the long arm of government while Democrats pivot to labor’s pay equity battle, calling Republicans unfair in promoting women’s rights in the workplace.
On the very day when pension reform passed in San Diego and San Jose and Governor Walker beat back organized labor in Wisconsin, we saw a brilliantly scripted female elective case study unfold right here in Contra Costa County. Stay tuned for a bumpy ride this fall as both parties and their candidates court homemakers, working women, and soccer moms in microcosms all over the country that look like sunny Contra Costa.