Capitol Alert

Special election season begins with Bonilla seeking DeSaulnier seat

In this photo taken Monday, Aug. 19,2013, Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord talks with Assemblymen Adam Gray, D-Merced, left,and Jim Frazier, D-Oakley at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif.
In this photo taken Monday, Aug. 19,2013, Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord talks with Assemblymen Adam Gray, D-Merced, left,and Jim Frazier, D-Oakley at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif. AP

The game of post-election legislative roulette has begun, with two California Assembly members announcing their candidacies for a soon-to-be-vacant state Senate seat, whose current owner just punched his ticket to Congress.

The upcoming departure for Washington of Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, has ignited a race for his East Bay district that will feature multiple incumbent Democrats and possibly Orinda Councilman Steve Glazer, who lost an expensive Assembly primary campaign this year.

Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, announced in an email on Tuesday that she will run for DeSaulnier’s 7th Senate District, which includes about one-quarter of her Assembly constituents.

“Working with a broad, diverse coalition, I am proud of what we have accomplished; turning a historic budget deficit into a balanced budget with a rainy day fund; revitalizing our economy through job creation and economic development; and reinvesting in our schools,” Bonilla said in a statement. “I will continue focusing on these efforts in the state Senate, building coalitions to deliver results for my constituents.”

Opposing Bonilla will be Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo. Term limits have forced Buchanan out of her Assembly seat, and the departing Assembly Education Committee chair affirmed her intent to seek a spot in the state Senate.

“Yes, I am planning to run for the Senate seat,” Buchanan told The Sacramento Bee, noting that her current Assembly district is wholly within the Pleasanton-to-Antioch district, where Democrats have a nearly 15-percentage point registration edge over Republicans. No-party-preference voters represent 22.2 percent of the electorate.

The race for Buchanan’s soon-to-be-former Assembly seat featured a ferocious contest between two Democrats. Unions lined up behind Dublin Mayor Tim Sbranti and spent heavily to defeat Steve Glazer, a former adviser to Gov. Jerry Brown, who landed on organized labor’s do-not-hire list after working on two contentious Assembly races. Glazer further angered union groups by campaigning this year in favor of prohibiting Bay Area Rapid Transit workers from striking.

In the end, Sbranti advanced to the general election but lost to Republican Catharine Baker, R-Walnut Creek. Sbranti said in an interview that he had “no intention” of seeking DeSaulnier’s Senate seat, but Glazer confirmed that he has weighed the possibility of running for the Senate post.

“A number of community leaders have encouraged me to consider running for this seat and I am giving it some thought,” Glazer wrote in an email.

DeSaulnier will be sworn into Congress in early January. Brown will set a special election after DeSaulnier resigns.

Call Jeremy B. White, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 326-5543.

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