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Saturday, March 01, 2008

Commentary: Lois Wolk To Run For Senate, Now She had Better Be Prepared to Win

Now the fun has truly begun. The Davis Enterprise reported yesterday that Lois Wolk, Assemblywoman who currently represents Davis in the 8th Assembly District will run for the state senate. She is unopposed for the Democratic primary.

Her opponent will be fellow Assemblyman Greg Aghazarian--who also figures to run unopposed for the Republican nomination.

Now it is time to get serious for Wolk. Frankly I was appalled when I saw the campaign finance figures that came out of the recent reporting period. Lois Wolk has raised all of $140,831. What has she been doing for the last year and two months? Was she really expecting to be able to run for reelection to the Assembly by way of passage of Prop 93.

Her opponent has already raised $656,675 and a good chunk of that has come directly from the Republican party--which means that they are targeting this race.

The Enterprise reports that Wolk has accepted campaign spending limits, but Aghazarian has not. That's actually misleading, what this really means is that Aghazarian has passed the limits already in the amount he can spend. The law provides for a candidate to amend that form at least twice during the course of the campaign, so as soon as the candidate passes the finance limit, they will simply file an amended statement.

But let us not kid ourselves. This is a district that produced in 2004 the most expensive Senate race in state history. And it figures to surpass the $10 million mark this time. Simply math will almost insure that since there are very few senate district that have any sort of district that are in play.

Some have suggested that this race figures to be easier than the one that Machado eked out by a 13,000 vote margin.

However, we need to examine a few things before we anoint Assemblywoman Wolk the winner. Other than a contested Democratic Primary in 2002 where she faced a young West Sacramento Mayor, Christopher Cabaldon and former Vacaville City Councilman Steve Hardy, Wolk has really never had a contested race that she had to win. Even then, she was the best known and most experienced of the candidates.

She has not had to run in a contested partisan election. She has not had to run against a candidate who is on equally footing as she is. She has not had to defeat a better financed candidate than herself. She has not been a virtual unknown in the vast part of the district.

These should not be read as criticisms, they should be read as warnings that she had better take this fight as a life or death fight, because her opponent will fight her to the death. She has plenty of time to equalize those campaign finance numbers, but she had better getting cracking on fundraising.

Make no mistake, this is a race that a Democrat can and probably should win, especially in a year like 2008. However, it should not be taken for granted. This is a political fight, the likes of which, Lois Wolk has never faced and she had better be ready for it.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting