Barnes, Alejo rev up their respective political engines.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
The 28th District state Assembly primary is turning into another Salinas vs. Watsonville showdown. City Councilwoman and schoolteacher Janet Barnes announced her candidacy Nov. 16, hoping to catch up to Democratic rival Luis Alejo, an attorney who was recently appointed Watsonville’s mayor.
Socially progressive Alejo has an impressive endorsement list that includes three Monterey County supervisors, Assemblymember Bill Monning, former Assembly speaker pro tem Fred Keeley, and Latino heroes Dolores Huerta and Luis Valdez. Fiscally conservative Barnes has backing from four Salinas City Council members and Supervisor Lou Calcagno, and will likely get financial backing from Salinas Valley agribusiness leaders.
Barnes, the latest of seven candidates to throw her hat in the ring for tthe June 2010 race, has voter registration numbers on her side: 45 percent of registered voters in the 28th district come from Monterey County. The district also includes San Benito, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties.
Rick Rivas, the Hollister political consultant who ran Anna Caballero’s successful campaign for the Assembly in 2006, says he pulled out of the 28th district race because Barnes is the best candidate. “I don’t think there is any question who the strong candidate in this race is,” Rivas says.
Alejo, a 35-year-old son of farmworkers, says he is building broad support across the district. “What’s going to matter most to voters in Salinas is what person is going to be the most effective in Sacramento and knows their struggles,” he says.
Monning, a longtime friend of Alejo’s, adds that the Democratic primary is still wide open and victory will largely depend on who runs the best campaign.
In other Sacramento political news, Sen. Abel Maldonado (R-Santa Maria) is rumored to be Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s top pick for lieutenant governor. A spokesman for the governor says there is no timeline on when Schwarzenegger will make his appointment to finish the term of John Garamendi, who won a Congressional seat.