WatchSonoma Watch

Inside a race for second

As we noted in our April 1 editorial, we began interviewing candidates in the June 5 primary this week. We started by sitting down with those in the 2nd District congressional race.

What stands out is that everyone has a different theory about how this race — in a newly drawn district that stretches from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Oregon border, crossing six counties — is going to play out given how the rules have changed. The fall contest will feature the top two finishers rather than a traditional race between the top Democrat and the top Republican, which, frankly hasn’t been much of a contest in 20 years.

Retired professor Mike Halliwell of Cotati projects that if the votes from Democrats spread out evenly among Dems, much as it did when Rep. Lynn Woolsey first won in 1992, he and fellow GOP candidate Dan Roberts could end up being the top two.

Hmmm. Maybe. But I wouldn’t bank on it.

The prevailing opinion is that this is a race for second place. Assemblyman Jared Huffman has the most name recognition, the most money and most of the key political endorsements, including that of Rep. Mike Thompson, who represented the northern reaches of the 2nd District before redistricting. Thompson has been campaigning with Huffman in those areas.

But it could be a different story in the fall if someone like Stacey Lawson takes silver in June. Lawson, a San Rafael businesswoman and Harvard Business School graduate who did well in private industry and is now looking to serve in Congress, got a late start but is keeping pace with Huffman on the fundraising front. Both may end up spending more than $1 million just in the June 5 primary. Should they both be in a runoff, they each could end up spending twice that — and it could end up getting nasty as they battle to see who is the more moderate candidate.

Both have strong liberal credentials. Huffman has the legislative experience, but Lawson has strong support from East Coast funders. Ultimately this could become a gender battle as Lawson has the backing of Emily’s List and other organizations that want to see this remain, as Petaluma City Councilwoman Tiffany Renee calls it, a “woman’s seat.”

This has become something of an issue across the nation. The Economist magazine notes that “even though a record number (of women) are running for the Senate, women are competing in fewer than a third of congressional races this year.” We’re reprinting this column on Monday. Look for it on page B5.

- Paul Gullixson

19 Responses to “Inside a race for second”

  1. Wally says:

    It seems that the race is between a Feinstein type (compromising and getting things done) or a Boxer type who raises issues and keeps the public pressure on the legislature. Huffman, of course, being Feinstein and Solomon being Boxer.

    But will Huffman be able to perform that role? I have crossed paths a lot with Huffman and he is an ambitious, smart hardworking politician. But he does tend to think he is the smartest guy in the room and alienates many people. His one characteristic – ability to wheel and deal – may not be that valuable.

    Further, are a few small deals what the U.S. congress needs now or does it need a big picture pushback on Tea Party nihilism? Solomon may be someone who, like Kucinich or Sanders or Paul, will be one of the few to present a truly different approach to the meddling and policing role the U.S. has had in international affairs for 50 years.

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  2. LTE regarding Lawson says:


    I read with interest your revealing profile (“Congress: The Dating Game,” March 15) of multimillionaire congressional candidate Stacey Lawson, but I wasn’t planning to comment publicly until I read about her offensive voting record on the NCJ blog. Apparently she only voted four times during a five-year period in which there were 12 elections. She didn’t even vote in the 2008 presidential election! Worse still is her excuse: She said she “felt disenfranchised.”

    I find it insulting that a wealthy corporate executive chose to describe her decision not to vote in that way. Disenfranchisement is being deprived of your right to vote. Generally, low-income and minority voters are the targets, as was the case in Florida during the 2000 presidential election. I have heard nothing that indicates Lawson had a legitimate reason to feel disenfranchised — she simply chose not to vote.
    We should never forget those who fought and died for the rights we now enjoy. As a local elected official, I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without the courageous efforts of the suffragettes. Lawson’s repeated refusal to vote shows a lack of respect for our history. As a businessperson and a congressional candidate, she wouldn’t be where she is today if it were not for those brave women.

    Lawson’s attitude toward civic participation is typical of wealthy vanity candidates. Like failed Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, Lawson didn’t vote when she was an executive raking in the cash. Now that she has relocated from San Francisco to our congressional district to launch her political career, she’s tapping her corporate connections in an effort to buy the election.

    I’m supporting Norman Solomon, an independent progressive Democrat for Congress. He has been in the trenches for decades, doing the hard work of organizing for social and economic justice. In the interest of full disclosure, my partner is a paid field coordinator for the Solomon campaign, but this letter was inspired by Lawson’s actions. I am personally offended by her disdain for voting rights. Solomon’s commitment and integrity make him the best person for the job and the only viable candidate we can trust.

    Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap, Eureka
    (April 26, 2012)

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  3. Lawson is being propped up by Republicans for the primary in hopes to ensure a real progressive doesn’t make second place. Republicans and corporate Dems are working desperately to ensure a less progressive leader than Lynn Woolsey….they are literally frothing at the mouth for the first time in years because they actually have a shot of getting one of their own into office. It is soooo obvious that’s what’s going on. What is bizarre is that her supposed positions on issues are relatively progressive and not too different than the other Dems…but the difference is that she is simply a puppet for well-heeled interests so Republicans backing her must be hedging their bets simply to avoid a run off with Huffman against Solomon. The whole open primary system was a critical mistake that is allowing Republicans to game the system in districts where they have no real chance of an actual Republican winning. People supporting Stacey fall into two camps – those who are naive and those who are cynically supporting her just to avoid a run off between Huffman and Solomon. Republicans don’t want real progressives in office which is also why they are supporting Huffman. So their two pronged plan is:

    1. To ensure Huffman wins – which he surely will against Stacey in a run off.

    2. To ensure Solomon doesn’t make it into second.

    Well, unfortunately for them, as much as they complain about the facts getting out, Lawson wasn’t well vetted and now people are waking up to discover she isn’t the packaged candidate they were close to buying. It’s a sham and no amount of advertising is going to erase a record she simply can’t run on successfully. No Democrat with a brain will support a candidate who didn’t even bother to vote for Obama in 2008….or against Prop 8.

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  4. Stacey Lawson: “We Are The Terrorists”
    APRIL 24, 2012
    From 2007 to 2009, during her mystical phase, Stacey Lawson wrote a blog for the Huffington Post. She posted 49 times mostly discussing her growing mysticism and study under her guru, Dattreya Siva Baba, aka Dr. Baskaran Pillai.

    Then she decided to run for Congress and scrubbed her writings from the Internet. Which makes eminent sense: she has some very odd ideas that the average person (and voter) would find ridiculous and even troubling.

    However, on the Internet nothing ever really dies.

    Thanks to Amy Alkon, the syndicated “Advice Goddess,” we have one of Stacey Lawson’s most audacious writings entitled “We Are The Terrorists.” The entire Amy Alkon column of January 2, 2008 is available at her blog. It makes for some humorous reading.

    The following are excerpts of Lawson’s original post, “We Are The Terrorists” from December 31, 2007. Through these excerpts, we get a real window into Stacey Lawson before her campaign consultants took over and started feeding us the puffed resume and carefully scripted bio:

    We are all terrorists. Before you dismiss this out of hand, please take a closer look. The terrorist inside you wages acts of aggression on those you believe to oppress you. The dictator inside you declares martial law when it suits you. The suicide bomber martyrs you and wounds others in your attempts to be heard and to be right.

    Global events are a mirror of aggressions taking place on a daily basis within each of us. This poses necessary and immediate questions: Who am I terrorizing? What part of myself or others am I assassinating?

    It is our instinctual nature to polarize the world (and ourselves) into good and evil and then attempt to eradicate all evil from view – through repression and denial or through aggression and violence. Until we reconcile the violent parts of ourselves that we have dispelled into the shadow, we will continue to play out violent scenes on the world stage.

    We have denied and discarded the unsavory bits of ourselves for so long, that we can no longer clearly see how we’re creating our troubled world. By definition, it is not easy to see that which is in the shadow. It is outside of our peripheral vision. It is our blind spot, the Ahttp://whoisstaceylawson.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post-new.phpchilles heal of the individual and of humanity. What we despise or deny we push deep into the dark recesses of the psyche, hoping it will be forever hidden there. But instead, contorted into all manner of gruesome expression that we no longer recognize as our own shadow, we confront these twisted and alienated bits of self over and over until they are reintegrated. Ms. Bhutto’s death is a painful illustration of our collective shadow.


    Our small daily acts of aggression may seem like nothing compared to the brutal assassination of a revered public figure. But the collective consciousness is an assimilation of each of us. As is the microcosm, so is the macrocosm. As long as we perpetuate the fracturing and fragmentation of disallowed parts of ourselves, stuffing our emotions and perpetuating a sense of shame and worthlessness even on a small scale, we will continue to create terrorists.


    Why? Because operating from this fractured consciousness, we don’t have the wisdom or the capacity to create a world that fosters wholeness. If we are not whole, we cannot know or create a world that is whole. As such, there will always be disenfranchised, forgotten and expendable parts. Those expendable parts and expendable people will rise up to terrorize us.

    In order to heal this schism, we must reconcile with the shadow. It will require us to collect up all the forgotten, orphaned, disowned, disgusting and estranged parts of ourselves…and bring them back home. All that we have denied and disdained must be held with equal love. Only then can we transmute the lower nature into higher forms. Integration of the poles of our experience is the path toward wholeness.

    We are all necessary in this collective healing process since “the only true battle is the one that rages inside” of us…

    This is some seriously crazy stuff from a Congressional candidate. It’s no wonder she tried to remove these posts from the Internet.

    Original posting (oh, it’s not there anymore!) : http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stacey-lawson/we-are-the-terrorists_b_78832.html

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  5. Lawson is another Meg Whitman says:

    Where have we heard this before….a millionaire woman who has not only never held public office, but only voted in 4 out of the last 12 elections, now thinks she’s qualified to be in Congress.

    She’s certainly qualified at raising money, but has little in-depth knowledge of the issues at hand and questionable business accomplishments when you actually dig a bit. The fact that Doug Bosco is supporting her heavily should be an unwelcome surprise to most thinking Democrats, and the fact that she is taking money mostly from her millionaire friends is concerning. She only just moved to the district to run for Congress, so her “rural” roots rhetoric is a bit tough to take seriously. And now she’s blasting the airwaves with ads asking people to read her “detailed plan”…..please. Where have we heard this before? Last election – and Meg Whitman lost big time just as Stacy will lose.

    At this stage in the process, Democrats need to consider very carefully who among the most viable candidates (from a popularity and/or financial standpoint) should be number 2 for the eventual run off. In other words, assuming there will be 2 Democrats that get the highest vote totals, which 2 should we choose in June?

    As Woolsey herself said, “This is the 21st century. I don’t think there’s any such thing as a woman’s district”, so think about who truly is most qualified to lead on policy both foreign and domestic.

    By any count, Huffman has experience in government – he’s an incumbent career politician who understands state politics and has a generally positive record on the environment (despite taking money from less than environmentally sound organizations).

    But we have Norman Solomon who has decades of international and foreign policy experience, coupled with an independence from the Democratic party that means fewer endorsements from insiders, but a stronger commitment to pursuing policy that serves the public interest.

    People need to think very carefully before wasting their votes to support candidates with zero chance (sorry, but that’s reality). Huffman will likely come in first in the June primary. The most likely candidates (again, based on polling and fund raising) are Solomon and Lawson. Please, if you are a thinking Democrat who wants an experienced leader with foreign policy credentials, intellect, and unquestionable ethics, support Solomon. At least we know Stacey won’t miss this election……just hope it’s the last time we see her on the ballot.

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  6. GrannyBG says:

    The best money can buy is no longer good enough. The nonvoting Lawson and the good ol’ go along with the party boy Huffman are not ideal candidates. I interviewed a number of the top candidate, researched their stances and have attended debates: Solomon is the only one with a chance I can get behind. He has brains, integrity and goes beyond playing whack a mole with issues. He knows what causes these issues to rise repeatedly…and will not vote for outsourcing democracy and earth for a few bucks.

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  7. Solomon A Phony Drop Out says:

    Solomon describes himself an “educator” on the June ballot.

    FACT: Solomon dropped out of high school after completing the 11th grade.

    He does not have the credentials to be a member of Congress.

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  8. George L. Marshall says:

    Stacey Lawson’s refusal to vote for the past twelve years is another example of an entitled liberal feeling like they can’t be bothered to participate in democracy but expecting to be elected to congress just because they are rich. I refuse to vote for someone who didn’t bother to cast a vote for twelve years but thinks they are entitled to help run the country. Of course Mr Sweeney and his friends on the editorial board won’t bother covering this story because Stacey Lawson is supported by his advertisers and business friends like Doug Bosco and Lex Mc Corvey. If it were Noreen Evans or Michael Allen who had neglected the most basic civic duty, the PD would be all over the story but they have avoided covering it so far. What’s wrong Mr Sweeney, did your advertisers tell you to leave the story alone?

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  9. Robert Michaelson says:

    Stacey Lawson is another rich person who doesn’t care about voting until it’s time for her to suck off the public teat. These liberals complain about the 1% but here is a perfect example of an elitist liberal who never voted, but thinks she is entitled to run for Congress. Isn’t Lawson embarrassed to ask people to vote for her, when she couldn’t be bothered to vote in the last twelve elections? She should be.

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  10. Randy Smith says:

    Stacey Lawson couldn’t be bothered to vote in eight of the last twelve elections. She’s as bad as Meg Whitman but the left wing thinks it’s excusable when one of their own fails to vote. When will the Press Democrat be reporting on Stacey’s poor voting record? The hypocrisy of the left astounds me.

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  11. Sloppy reporting? says:

    Interesting that despite polls and previous PD articles, Norman Solomon isn’t mentioned. He remains a very viable candidate – especially in the new district.

    Regarding the idea that it should be a woman to succeed Lynn Woolsey, here’s what Lynn herself had to say:

    “This is the 21st century. I don’t think there’s any such thing as a woman’s district,” Woolsey said.

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  12. IraqWarVet says:

    The majority of congressional seats are safe seats. They are either democratic safe or republican safe. But the Republicans are smart, they send to congress strong conservative far righties to fill their safe seats, while Democrats send weak moderate BlueDogs or centrists to congress to fill their safe seats who will always compromise. So what happens in the end, the entire nation’s political spectrum moves farther and farther to the right because the Dems that we send to Washington stand for nothing. We here in the new 2nd Congressional District actually have the opportunity to send to Washington someone who is a true progressive liberal, Norman Solomon will truly represent us unlike the other candidates who are owned by their corporate donors. Just compare Huffman/Lawson’s FEC records to Solomon’s. Big Business candidates vs Grassroots.

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  13. Huffman is No 1 says:

    Mr. Halliwell provides a very sophisticated analysis in his post below.
    The scary thing is if the numbers are right, Solomon still has a slim chance at the top two and all Democrats, Republicans, and Independents should be concerned about that possibility.

    The PD did a profile piece on Lawson, not Solomon.

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  14. Inside A Race for Second: A Projection from Prior Trends

    A good place to start is the Top of the Ticket 2010 general election vote in territory now included in the 2nd CD. Governor Jerry Brown (D) received 182,201 (67.8%) and Meg Whitman (R) received 86,585 (32.2%). In 2006, when 6th CD Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey was challenged in the Democratic Primary by Assemblyman Joe Nation, she received 72,058 votes versus 36,845 for a total of 108,903. The total votes cast in the 2006 Democratic Primary is 62.9% of the 173,190 Woolsey received in the 2006 General Election. Let’s assume that Mitt Romney becoming a “sure bet” for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, saps the Republican-leaning vote to a point similar to the ratio of primary and general election votes for the 2004 Republican 6th CD candidate Paul Erickson (43,248/85,244 = 50.7%), when President George W. Bush had no opposition for the GOP nomination.
    In this scenario, the projected June 5, 2012 Democrat-leaning turnout would be 62.9% of Jerry Brown’s vote, which comes to 114,604. The projected primary turnout of Republican-leaning voters would be 50.7% of Meg Whitman’s vote, which comes to 43,899. These turnout differentials are pessimistic from a GOP perspective, because our voters nearly always go to the polls in a higher ratio Democrats do. In this scenario the 32.2% Whitman vote drops to a combined 27.7% for the two 2nd CD Republicans.

    Daily Kos Elections Polling Wrap comments on 4/10/12:

    That Huffman internal in the heavily Democratic CA-02 underscores again what might be one of the more under-reported stories of the 2012 congressional cycle, and one with potential legitimate peril for Democrats. This poll makes it look quite possible that the top two finishers in June’s open primary will be Democrats. By the new primary rules in the state of California, the top two finishers … regardless of party … will advance to the general election. The peril for Democrats is that warring Democratic candidates, having advanced to November, will suck up a ton of cash trying to beat another Democrat. Those donations, of course, would be better used beating Republicans in November.

    The cited Huffman internal poll shows 24% for Huffman, 9% for Lawson, 7% for Solomon, and Adams with 5% (along with 5% each for the two Republicans in the 2nd CD race). The closest fit with this poll (of all the recent results in either the 1st CD or 6th CD part of the new 2nd CD) is the 1994 Democratic Primary in the very similar 1st CD, where incumbent Frank Riggs looked vulnerable – but he won in this very good Republican year, then retired in 1996.

    1994 1 CD Dem. Primary

    1. Alioto 40.46% = 30,935
    2. Marvin 33.19% = 25,375
    3. Burton 11.06% = 8,457
    4. Silver 10.39% = 7,940
    5. Chuning 4.90% = 3.744

    2012 2nd CD top Democrats

    1. Huffman 40.46% = 46,369
    2. Lawson 33.19% = 38,037
    3. Solomon 11.06% = 12,675
    4. Adams 10.39% = 11,907
    5+. Others 4.90% = 5,616

    This isn’t a very good fit with either the Huffman/Lawson gap or the Lawson/Solomon gap, in the 500 voter (March 23 to 29) poll. One could use instead a comparison more in keeping with the fact that eight Democrats are running in the new 2nd CD, the no-incument 2000 Democratic Primary in the Marin/Sonoma 6th AD, in which Joe Nation won, and Susan Adams was a candidate.

    2000 6th AD Democratic Primary

    1. Joe Nation 26.7% = 26,078
    2. Carole Hayashino 23.8% = 23,217
    3. Frank Egger 14.7% = 14,338
    4. Barbara Heller 12.4% = 12,127

    5. Paul Nave 9.3% = 9,059
    6. Susan Adams 6.0% = 5,942
    7. Jack Gibson 5.3% = 5,267
    8. Basia Crane 1.8% = 1,825

    With the same primary turnout of 114,604 Democrat-leaning and 43,899 Republican-leaning voters used with the 1994 1st CD template, my projected 2012 2nd CD results using the 2000 6th AD template are:

    2012 2nd CD non-Repubicans

    1. Jared Huffman 26.7% = 30,599
    2. Norm Solomon 23.8% = 27,276
    3. Stacey Lawson 14.7% = 16,847
    4. Susan Adams 12.4% = 14,211

    5. Tiffany Renee 9.3% = 10,658
    6. Andy Caffrey 6.0% = 6,876
    7. Bill Courtney 5.3% = 6,074
    8-10. Others 1.8% = 2,063

    In this circumstance one of the two 6th CD Republicans would need 62.14% of the 43,899 Republican-leaning votes to get into the November run-off. The most likely result in such a case would NOT be a gain of one seat toward the goal of keeping the People’s House in friendly hands (from a Republican perspective). Much more likely, would be helping to lose GOP seats elsewhere.

    As the Daily Kos worries, “The peril for Democrats is that warring Democratic candidates, having advanced to November, will suck up a ton of cash trying to beat another Democrat. Those donations, of course, would be better used beating Republicans in November.” However, suppose that the turnout of Republican-leaning voters is the same ratio to the aggregate primary vote, as in 2010 when joint appearances of Jim Judd and Michael Halliwell were facilitated by local Republican-leaning organizations. The combined vote for the two Republicans in the June 2010 primary was 40,906, which is 52.9% of the nominee’s November vote of 77,361. Using the same 2nd CD Meg Whitman vote as a base, there would be 45,803 Republican-leaning voters in the 2012 primary, and only 59.57% of this number would be needed to come in ahead of the 2nd place Democrat’s 27, 276. In this case, there would be much more momentum for whichever GOP candidate made it into the final round, and more chance for keeping local Democrat donors from sending their contributions into swing districts now held by Republicans.

    However, suppose that (either by splitting the Republican-leaning vote for a 52.9% turnout rate down the middle, or by our improving the turnout a percent or two), that BOTH Dan Roberts and Mike Halliwell get 22,901 votes in the June primary. How much of an increase in the projected aggregate 36.4% vote for the three female candidates (Lawson, Adams & Renee) is needed to bring the two strongest male candidates down to 22,900 votes? The answer is 10.54%. What is so impossible about a 46.94% aggregate feminist vote in a district with the political profile of the 2nd CD?

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  15. Missy says:

    Dear UFTS – because if you don’t vote against the tax and spend Dems and FOR Roberts you’ll ensure a win for any of the Dems.

    Vote AGAINST the Dems. Vote for Roberts.

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  16. Camino Atlo says:

    And the PD will endorse Huffman because he is the Democrat (in name only) who will cater to the 1%. Just look at his endorsements for proof.

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  17. ADAMS says:

    The Sonoma County Women’s Political Caucus is endorsing Susan Adams because she actually has a record to run on.

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  18. Mystery Meat says:

    Interesting what each candidate offers:

    Solomon: energized base of progressive supporters, years of activism on social justice and peace issues, running from the far left. I respect the credentials, even if I don’t support him.

    Adams: 2-term county supervisor and serious health care professional. If this is a “woman’s seat” as some say, she’s the most credible woman and has support of local women’s groups.

    Huffman: real experience as a legislator, a solid record especially on the environment, endorsements from all over the place. Fundraising is one of several reasons he’s the frontrunner.

    Roberts: conservative businessman, GOP party website lists him as their endorsed candidate, many years in community, and he’s a veteran. Solid GOP candidate profile.

    Lawson: the stealth candidate with no record, new to area, lots of money from out of state friends, and national group that cares only about gender backing her.

    I understand the argument for most of these candidacies, but Lawson mystifies. Can someone really be a serious candidate in a place like the North Bay simply because they have money? I’ve never seen that work here (remember Bennett Johnston, Jr.), but there’s always a first.

    Before I take her seriously, I want some details on who she is and what she’s been doing, not the vague fluff on her website.

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  19. Up From The Street says:

    Why vote at all. All of these candidates lack a sense of direction and really bring nothing to the table. Does it really matter who wins when you have two sides of the same coin running with the same agenda?

    These are tax and spend democrats whose agenda is to drive up the debt even further and vote for more taxes on all of us to support their thirst for power over our lives.

    Stay home June 5 and enjoy a good dinner with your family and friends. Time better spent that voting for the same old same.

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