By BRETT WILKISON
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Leaders of the Sonoma County Democratic Party on Tuesday failed to endorse a candidate in the race for the open seat on the county Board of Supervisors.
The party did hand out endorsements for the Democratic incumbents in four state races and one congressional race and also backed a trio of state and local ballot measures.
Party leaders, including 20 voting members of the central committee who were present, couldn’t agree during an evening meeting on who to back in the race for the non-partisan 1st District supervisor’s seat held by retiring Supervisor Valerie Brown.
A subcommittee that interviewed all five candidates recommended an endorsement for Santa Rosa Councilwoman Susan Gorin, said Stephen Gale, chairman of the Sonoma County Democratic Party.
But Gorin fell two votes short of the two-thirds majority needed gain the central committee’s endorsement. She needed 14 votes and got 12, Gale said.
A subsequent motion to endorse Gina Cuclis, a Boyes Hot Springs communication consultant and longtime central committee member, failed to earn a second, Gale said.
The deadlocked decision followed what Gale described as a “very robust debate” about the 1st District supervisorial field, which also includes Santa Rosa Councilman John Sawyer, Sonoma Valley energy consultant Mark Bramfitt and Keith Rhinehart, a former UPS supervisor from the Santa Rosa area.
Gale said he was not surprised the committee made no endorsement in the race. It reached a similar decision in the tight 2010 race between Healdsburg city council members Mike McGuire and Debora Fudge for the north county supervisor’s seat. McGuire won the election.
Gale said the party likely would endorse a candidate if the race proceeds to a runoff after the June primary.
“It’s a situation where we have a number of strong candidates,” Gale said. “We’re really expecting voters to make the decision in June.”
In state races, the party backed Assembly members Michael Allen in the 10th District, Wes Chesbro in the 2nd District and Mariko Yamada in the 4th District and state Sen. Lois Wolk in the 3rd District.
In the 5th Congressional District race, Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, got the party’s endorsement. It made no endorsement in the 2nd Congressional District, where four Democrats are vying to replace retiring Rep. Lynn Woolsey. The local party cannot endorse candidates in state and federal races unless the California Democratic Party endorses them first. None of the four candidates for Woolsey’s seat was able to garner 50 percent of the votes from members at the state party’s pre-endorsement caucus held last month.
On ballot measures, the party in Sonoma County endorsed Measure A, the Sonoma Valley Hospital parcel tax extension. It also backed two statewide measures: Prop. 28, which would modify legislators’ term limits, and Prop. 29, a proposed additional cigarette tax to support cancer research.