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Mayor candidates seek endorsements

By Kurtis Alexander, Daily Planet Staff
Tuesday July 16, 2002

Lunch dates and phone calls have begun to overwhelm mayoral candidates as they bid for support from their friends in high places. 

In a closely-watched political race pitting two-term incumbent Shirley Dean against 20-year Sacramento veteran Tom Bates, both campaigns acknowledge that political endorsements will be pivotal in the November contest in which slim voting margins are projected. 

The latest endorsement, expected to be made official July 27, comes from Congresswoman Barbara Lee, who is expected to throw support behind Bates, Bates’ office said Monday. 

The two-term congresswoman has been popular with her Berkeley/Oakland constituency, especially in light of her recent voting record, which calls to question the war against terrorism. 

Lee’s office would not confirm its support of Bates, but noted the long-standing and positive relationship the congresswoman has had with the former state assemblyman. 

Mayor Dean said Lee’s endorsement of Bates comes as no surprise, and that the list of supporters falling into place on both sides has been predictable. Dean’s highest-ranking endorsement is state Senator Don Perata. 

“I’m working on endorsements but I’m just getting started,” she said. 

County Supervisor Keith Carson, state Assemblywoman Dion Aroner and Bates’ wife, Assembly candidate Loni Hancock, have also come out in support of Bates, his office confirmed. 

“I have a rather impressive lineup at this point,” Bates said. “This support is an indication of your respect and your effectiveness.” 

Bates has also picked up endorsements from former Berkeley Mayor Jeff Lieter, former UC Berkeley Chancellor Mike Hammond and current Alameda County School Board member Jacki Fox Ruby. Berkeley representatives from AC Transit, BART, East Bay Regional Parks and East Bay Municipal Utility District are also on board, he added. 

Dean has also picked up support from representatives of East Bay MUD and East Bay Parks in her young drive for endorsements. 

Beyond the endorsement battle, the mayor hopes her local track record and a strong support base will be enough for her to prevail in the November election. She noted that she sought no endorsements in her successful mayoral bid in 1998. 

Dean, who is known as the leader of Council’s moderate faction, takes what she calls a “more mainstream” approach to issues of housing, education, and redevelopment, and believes her middle-of-the-road position will fare well for her in the election. 

“I’m going to reach out to who I’ve always reached out too... those in the middle, not on the extremes of the right or left,” she said. 

Bates, who has garnered the support of Council’s more progressive faction, said the race is less about specific issues and where voters stand, but about leadership potential. 

A solid reputation for being “reasonable” and “smart” will transcend any position, he said. He expects to win support from moderate voters in the hills and the other more conservative pockets of Berkeley, as well. 

“These people know who I am, and know I’m not too radical,” Bates said.