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Assembly race between Allen, Levine heating up

By DEREK MOORE
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

The race in a newly created state Assembly district that encompasses part of Sonoma County and all of Marin County is starting to heat up in one of the few contests statewide to feature two Democrats running against each other.

Assemblyman Michael Allen and his challenger, Marc Levine, earned the right to compete for the 10th Assembly District under California’s new top-two primary system.

Allen, Levine.

The race has gained attention in part because it is one of about two dozen in the state pitting members of the same party against one another in the general election on Nov. 6.

Allen, a former union leader who has risen quickly through the ranks of power in his first Assembly term to become assistant majority floor leader, has the support of Democratic Party leaders in Sacramento.

The only hope that Levine, a first-term San Rafael city councilman, has to counter that support is to run an “insurgent candidacy,” said David McCuan, a political scientist at Sonoma State University.

McCuan said Levine faces a “significantly uphill battle because the powers of Sacramento, and the interest groups around Sacramento, do not want to see a fractious Democrat-on-Democrat battle.”

Allen did not return messages left over three days this week seeking comment on his candidacy.

He and Levine have gotten testy with one another over everything from endorsements to Allen’s decision to relocate to San Rafael in order to qualify to run in the redrawn district.

On Tuesday, a campaign aide to Levine alleged in a letter to Sonoma County tax officials that Allen violated state law by claiming a homeowner’s taxation exemption that Allen is no longer entitled to after his move to Marin.

The complaint was filed by Bruce Raful, Levine’s campaign treasurer and a certified real estate appraiser.

“The California Constitution is pretty clear,” Raful said in a statement sent to reporters. “If you live in your home, and don’t rent it out or vacate it, you’re entitled to a $7,000 tax exemption.

In fact, the Constitution does not provide for an exemption of $7,000 in taxes. It does exempt $7,000 in assessed value from application of the property tax rates.

“Mr. Allen left Oakmont for San Rafael in October of last year when he re-registered there to vote, so he wasn’t entitled to the exemption that he claimed on January 1 of 2012. In my book, that’s cheating,” Raful wrote.

Sonoma County Assessor Janice Atkinson on Wednesday said Raful is correct that Allen should not have claimed the exemption. But she called it an “oversight” on Allen’s part.

Atkinson said such exemptions are claimed once and then automatically renew each year. She said it’s not uncommon for property owners to forget to notify tax officials when they move so that they no longer get the benefit.

Atkinson said for a piece of property valued at $300,000, the exemption amounts to a property tax savings of $70. She said Allen will have to pay back his exemption savings for 2012 plus 25 percent of that amount as a penalty.

Atkinson said Allen visited the assessor’s office Wednesday to correct his paperwork.

Levine’s campaign also this week released results of a poll that appears to show he is leading Allen in the race.

The poll, conducted of 400 likely voters in Sonoma and Marin counties by Global Strategy Group, found 26 percent supported Levine and 19 percent backing Allen.

McCuan said the sample size was too small and the poll too aligned with the Levine campaign to draw any firm conclusions. He said people are just now tuning into the race.

McCuan predicted the race could get ugly in coming weeks as the candidates and the groups that support them unleash what McCuan expects will be a deluge of negative ads.

At the May deadline for campaign finance reporting, Allen had raised seven times more than Levine, mostly through donations from the Democratic State Central Committee and labor groups.

The next reporting deadline is Oct. 5.

You can reach Staff Writer Derek Moore at 521-5336 or derek.moore@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @deadlinederek.





15 Responses to “Assembly race between Allen, Levine heating up”

  1. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    Michael Allen has done the job we elected him to to. I worked and voted for him in the last election. I work and will vote for him in this election. HE STILL REPRESENTS PARTS OF SONOMA COUNTY. I live in Santa Rosa and I’m quite happy to be able to vote for him again. Marin County voters can be assured he will work for them too, and they should welcome him as a resident of their county though he could have stayed in Sonoma County and still run in this district.

    Michael works for FAMILIES. He always has. He works for decent paying with benefits living wage jobs. He always has. He supports education. He supports the middleclass. He supports labor. We don’t have many representatives in government that support the people anymore. We need him.

  2. Dick Tracy says:

    @Camino Alto

    “Neither of these clowns will get my vote. Neither deserves it and I dislike both equally so I can’t even pick the lesser of two evils. This race reminds me of South Park, Season 8, Episode 8.”

    You just relax and watch more television–we can decide without you.

  3. Eric Newman says:

    Levine has become contemptible in his low-road campaign to defeat Michael Allen. Every time I hear Michael spaek, he’s talking about public policy, new research, tax and pension reorm, infra-structure development… I have not heard Levine talk about any substantive issue. He seems to think that his route to public office is to dig up administrative ‘parking tickets’ to show that his opponent is not worthy for office.

    There’s no there there for Levine. He’s an unprincipled careerist whose only real concern is his own personal advancement. What finally ripped it for me was seeing a video clip on a Bay Area news channel with Marc Levine enthusiastically attending a Romney rally in Marin. That, my friends, is not a real Democrat.

    Allen is a principled progressive who tells you what you’re going to get, and then delivers it, again and again. I wish we had a hundred Michael Allens in the state legislature. He’s the real deal.

  4. Que Sera says:

    State employee unions have cause this state to be bankrupt in all but the judgement of bankruptcy. Allen has been part of the cause of it. Our civil servants are and have been overpaid and overbenefitted for years.
    Laws are to follow common sense, but Allen has always shown he has neither sense or anything in common with the people. Marin doesnt need a carpetbagger from Santa Rosa representing them!

  5. Camino Alto says:

    Grapevines – You said it!

    Neither of these clowns will get my vote. Neither deserves it and I dislike both equally so I can’t even pick the lesser of two evils. This race reminds me of South Park, Season 8, Episode 8.

  6. Terry says:

    Wow, the haters are out in force on this article forum. Who cares about a two digit mistake…why is this a story? More at issue is the story that a Grand Jury implicated Michael Allen two years ago in an ethics probe. Allen was also paid by two unions AFTER he took his oath of office without timely disclosure. Even with all this as a backdrop, the haters go on the attack against Levine to avoid these two discussions. Where there is smoke there is fire.

  7. Marc's poll says:

    Most reliable poll? The primary results.

  8. Vinyl Rules says:

    Why is this even a story? Is this all Levine can do, go on the attack? I’ve never heard Michael Allen attack Marc Levine. Allen talks about issues. What issues does Levine bring up? Seriously, I struggle to think of even one issue that he’s passionate about and campaigns on. The headline is the most exciting part of the article, which is telling.

  9. Brian D says:

    The County Assessor says this is common that should be the end of the story. I know it is all to common, I forgot to stop taking my own when I moved to Sonoma years ago and it was simple to correct with no fine assessed.

    As a political attack its a reach.

  10. Seriously? says:

    This is what Levine wants to hit Allen with? a double digit fine? I’ve received parking tickets larger than that!

    @Marty

    Interesting link! I’m surprised, the PD has always been the first to try to hold candidates to ethical standards, especially when the political watch dog FPPC comes down with a ruling…

    Nevertheless, according to Michael Allen’s website he sits on the ethics committee and doesn’t accept gifts from lobbyists, I’m guessing there wasn’t a back room deal for him to keep 90 bucks.

  11. Grapevines says:

    Another example of the totally useless running against the completely inept.

    You decide which is which.

  12. Demosthenes says:

    Marc Levine’s run a complete campaign of divisive politics. Does Sonoma County get that he’s slapping them in the face with his “us vs. them” Marinite philosophy? I was at a candidate forum in Santa Rosa a few months ago where he was calling Michael Allen a carpetbagger and I thought to myself “Michael Allen? WE elected him!”

    I would LOVE to read an article on where Levine stands on key issues: SMART, Dutra, etc. We know where Michael Allen stands, he’s been representing this community for years.

  13. Political Scientist says:

    Marty: I would guess they don’t read other papers…but then they went and quoted the Marin IJ in THIS story.

    I guess they just ignored it.

  14. Not A Chance says:

    THANK YOU MARTY. WHAT A HILARIOUS READ.

    From the MIJ story:

    “Bennett Hinkley, ABDF.org’s founder said Levine served as the executive director from January 2009 through December 2010, but was not paid.

    “We all work as volunteers,” Hinkley said.

    When asked if he was paid for his work at ABDF.org, Levine said, “Yeah, why are you asking?”

    When informed of Hinkley’s statement, however, he said, “Yeah, I provided pro bono consulting for them. I didn’t say I was getting paid. I’m on a cell phone. Sorry if I didn’t hear you correctly.””

    hahahahahahahahaha sorry I’m on a cell phone??????

    Starting to look like Levine has an issue with the truth. And his treasurer seems to stretch reality, Kudos to D Moore for fact checking his constitution claim.

    And can we agree, even if you don’t care for Allen, $87 bucks isn’t exactly Watergate, it seems more like an oversight.

    That being said, good thing I plan on voting for Allen, there doesn’t seem to be any other credible candidates in the race, if he wants to be the insurgent and post discredited polling he’s only fooling himself on election day.

  15. Marty says:

    I don’t understand why The Press Democrat hasn’t reported on Levine’s FPPC violation. The other local paper in the district did over a month ago, its disturbing that this News organization would hammer Allen on an 80 dollar mistake, while allowing Levine’s violation to go completely unreported.

    Here’s the Marin Independent Journals reporting on the issue:

    http://www.marinij.com/sanrafael/ci_21124008/assembly-candidate-marc-levine-admonished-failing-fully-disclose

    Long story short, Levine’s wife has a trust fund that they live off of while Marc claims to be a “consultant” even though there is little to no evidence that he has had a job in the past three years. One City Council meeting a week doesn’t count, sorry. Marc failed to reveal the fact that his wife brought in all the money last year. There’s nothing wrong with wealth or the female being the head of household, but there is a problem with a candidate trying to hide it. The FPPC agreed, I hope the Press Democrat will as well.

    -Marty Gordon 30 Year Petaluma Resident/Voter