Capitol Alert

California Democratic Party jumps into all-Democrat battle in East Bay Senate race

Assemblyman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, and Orinda Mayor Steve Glazer, D-Orinda, at a candidates forum April 30.
Assemblyman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, and Orinda Mayor Steve Glazer, D-Orinda, at a candidates forum April 30. The Sacramento Bee

Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla has had the endorsement of the California Democratic Party in the Concord Democrat’s quest to succeed former state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier in the East Bay’s 7th Senate District. Now she has the party’s financial backing in her May 19 runoff against Orinda Mayor Steve Glazer, a fellow Democrat and former top adviser to Gov. Jerry Brown.

The California Democratic Party has contributed more than $73,000 to Bonilla’s campaign, state filings through Thursday show. It is the first time the party has spent significant money in an open race featuring two Democrats.

The money has paid for pro-Bonilla mailers to Democratic voters, party spokesman Michael Soller said Thursday.

“She’s the kind of smart, progressive Democrat we’re going to support across California,” Soller said. The party-funded mail, timed to come after the April 20 start of mail voting in the contest, are positive pieces that “remind voters of Assemblwoman Bonilla’s record and support from local leaders,” he said. He declined to detail any party objections to Glazer.

Glazer called the party spending “precedent-setting” and “very disappointing.”

“They could have made a choice to let the local interests fight it out,” Glazer said. “It goes to show how special interests are using the party to defeat Democrats who are independent enough to represent their district interests over their narrow agenda.”

Glazer, who helped guide Brown’s 2010 campaign for a third term as governor, angered organized labor, a key Democratic constituency, for his support of restricting transit workers’ ability to strike and his past consulting work for pro-business campaign committees. Through Wednesday, union-backed outside spending groups had spent more than $1.9 million since the March 17 primary supporting Bonilla or opposing Glazer. Committees bankrolled by businesses, charter schools and wealthy businessman Bill Bloomfield have spent more than $2.4 million to help Glazer, records show.

The state party contributions to Bonilla began showing up last week and are the first to a Democrat in a same-party runoff since fall 2012. Those donations, though, aided the re-election campaigns of incumbent Assemblymembers Betsy Butler and Michael Allen. Both lost to fellow Democrats: Richard Bloom, D-Santa Monica, and Marc Levine, D-San Rafael, respectively.

Call Jim Miller, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 326-5521. Follow him on Twitter @jimmiller2.