By CLARK MASON
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Less than two months after declaring his candidacy for Sonoma County supervisor, Healdsburg City Councilman Tom Chambers has bowed out of the race.
Chambers on Tuesday said he was unable to gain enough momentum after a late start in the campaign for the North County seat and is throwing his support to James Gore.
“He and I were going after the same folks — a little more moderate to conservative, a little more free market,” Chambers said. “I needed a little more horsepower to catch up.”
Chambers’ departure leaves four candidates vying for the $134,000-a-year job in the June primary — longtime Windsor Councilwoman Deb Fudge; Gore, a former assistant chief in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service; former Healdsburg Councilman Pete Foppiano; and Keith Rhinehart, a former UPS supervisor and part-time teacher.
They are running for the seat currently occupied by 4th District Supervisor Mike McGuire, who is not seeking re-election, but instead is running for the state Senate seat being vacated by Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa.
The sprawling 4th Supervisorial District extends to the Mendocino County line and includes parts of north Santa Rosa, along with all of Wikiup-Larkfield, Windsor, Healdsburg and Cloverdale.
Political analysts say it is unlikely any of the supervisorial candidates will get a majority of the vote in June, setting up a run-off between the two top vote getters in November.
Even without Chambers’ endorsement, Gore would have benefitted with the Healdsburg councilman’s departure, they said. “People who would support Chambers will support Gore,” said Petaluma political consultant Brian Sobel.
“Nominally, Chambers dropping out helps boost Gore in the short-term,“ said David McCuan, a Sonoma State political scientist who closely follows supervisorial elections.
They said the two candidates both appealed to business and agricultural interests.
Fudge, who has run twice before for supervisor, is endorsed by the Sierra Club and other environmental groups. She is expected to do well in the primary with the backing of progressive groups and voters.
“Her name recognition is so good,” McCuan said, but said “her negatives are baked in. She has to push past those and draw some people beyond the left in, to the center or middle.”
Chambers announced his candidacy in mid-December, about a month after the other candidates. The third-term councilman touted his background in government and his management experience in the manufacturing and high-tech sectors as preparing him for the job of supervisor.
Although he raised $32,000, he said he was at a disadvantage going forward trying to raise the $150,000 to $200,000 he was told he would need to mount a successful campaign.
“I was not ready to throw a Hail Mary pass,” Chambers said.
He described Gore as “an aggressive campaigner who’s done a nice job of getting out in front.”
Gore said Tuesday that he welcomes Chambers endorsement, describing him as “a widely respected leader, not only in Healdsburg but the North County.”
Chambers said he will give the money he raised back to his contributors.
You can reach Staff Writer Clark Mason at 521-5214 or firstname.lastname@example.org.