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Mayor trails in endorsements

By Matthew Artz
Friday September 27, 2002


While Berkeley’s two primary mayoral candidates say they expect a tight election this November, the race for political endorsements has been a landslide. 

Progressive candidate Tom Bates, with ties and personal bonds he forged during 20 years as a state Assemblyman, has won the support of nearly every major local interest group and politician. 

Heavy hitters such as U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, state Assemblywoman Dion Aroner, D- Berkeley, are supporting bates. The Sierra Club, the National Organization for Women, Green Party of Alameda, Democratic Party of Alameda, and Alameda Council of Labor have endorsed him. All told more than 300 people and organizations back Bates. 

“I’ve got their support because of what I’ve done in the past and my history of providing good leadership,” Bates said. He says that Mayor Shirley Dean failed while in office eight years to develop the same relationships with local leaders. 

Dean, however, said Bates’ endorsements were about political ties than political record. 

“I do believe that I am up against a political machine that wants to control everything in the city,” she said. Dean represents a moderate faction in the City Council, which is the minority group by one-vote.  

Dean has won the support of state Sen. Don Perata, D-Oakland, the Berkeley Democratic Club, and more than 30 neighborhood activists. The police and fireman’s unions, as well as an offshoot of the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce, all of which supported Dean in her past two successful campaigns, have not yet made an endorsement. 

Bruce Cain, a UC Berkeley professor with the political science department said Bates’ endorsements should give him an advantage but will not guarantee him victory in November. 

“At a local level, it can matter if groups are willing to do work and throw resources into the race,” he said. “Often in a low turnout election, if interest groups get the vote out, it will make the difference.” 

Bates agreed and said his supporters are more than just names to put on campaign fliers. “Groups are making phone calls to members and walking precincts,” he said, adding that Sierra Club will make a pro-Bates mailing to its estimated 5,000 Berkeley members. 

Dean, meanwhile, said she doesn’t need the support of leading politicians and interest groups to win the election. “The neighborhood knows my record and neighborhood support is the most important type of endorsements there are,” she said.