Rooting for the Home Team
Salinas player Caballero strikes out, but Watsonville’s Alejo triumphs.
Thursday, November 4, 2010
U.S. Congressman Sam Farr drops by the Democratic Party headquarters Tuesday night in Salinas and greets state Senate candidate Anna Caballero with a hug, telling her, “I’m sad about the nation tonight.”
He doesn’t realize at the time that his words also would apply to his friend.
Voters handed local state office candidates a little good news and a little bad news on Election Night. Caballero, the Assemblywoman from the 28th District, lost her bid for Senate’s 12th District seat to Republican Anthony Cannella, a political neophyte and conservative small-town mayor from the Central Valley town of Ceres, 47 to 53 percent.
But Watsonville mayor Luis Alejo, a migrant farmworkers’ son with degrees from UC-Davis, UC-Berkeley and Harvard, rode a groundswell of support from labor and the Hispanic community to handily take the 28th District seat vacated Caballero’s Senate bid, defeating corporate financial executive Robert Bernosky 61 percent to 39 percent.
Early on Election Night, Caballero is still optimistic during a stop at party headquarters, where volunteers manned the phones until the polls closed.
“We set out to run a grassroots campaign based on real issues, and we succeeded in doing that,” she says.
Farr, meanwhile, has a tough night watching his colleagues all over the country lose their jobs.
“There are outstanding Congress people all over the country who are losing their jobs tonight for all the wrong reasons. But in California, there’s good news,” he says. Referring to Central Coast Democratic candidates, he says, “This is our family, and we are looking at ourselves as a region.”
Alejo, a 36-year-old staff attorney with the Monterey County Superior Court, arrives at his campaign headquarters after 9pm to wild cheers. The crowd of more than 100 volunteers chants “Sí se puede” and shouts his name for nearly 10 minutes before he is able to speak.
He says one of his goals is to help people who lost their homes to foreclosure due to predatory lending clear their credit histories and start fresh.
“I’m not naïve. I know it’s not going to be an easy walk in Sacramento,” Alejo says. “But if I work closely with the people I met in the 28th District while I was campaigning, we can make good things happen for this region.”