Thursday, June 5, 2008
Jackson Browne and Bonnie Raitt are nowhere to be seen at Assembly hopeful Bill Monning’s Election Night party at the SEIU offices in Santa Cruz. Both singers endorsed Monning for the post, and hosted benefit receptions to raise money for his campaign to represent the Central Coast in the Statehouse. Despite the lack of celebrity cameos, however, things look good for Monning early in the evening June 3, shortly after polls closed.
Monning, an attorney and professor at the Monterey Institute of International Studies and the Monterey College of Law, was one of four Democrats vying to replace termed-out 27th District Assemblyman John Laird. The other candidates included Santa Cruz City Councilwoman Emily Reilly, who owns Emily’s Bakery (located just blocks from the Monning festivities on Mission Street in Santa Cruz), businesswoman Barbara Sprenger and chiropractor Steve Barkalow. The 27th is a largely Democratic district, so the Dem primary winner is virtually guaranteed the Assembly seat. Pundits expect Monning to win the majority of Monterey County votes. But winning Santa Cruz County, home base to well-liked former mayor Reilly and some 36,000 likely voters (compared to 18,000 in Monterey County and about 5,000 in Santa Clara County) is key.
Early Santa Cruz County results show Monning winning 41 percent of the vote over Reilly, who had 32 percent. Not surprisingly, Monning takes 66 percent of Monterey County voters by 11pm Tuesday.
By 7am, June 4, Monning has won the race with 51 percent of the vote. “This is a huge victory,” he says. “It represents the work of over 1,000 volunteers, contributors, endorsers, precinct walkers– it’s been a huge mobilization, and it’s really a shared victory.” It seems a fitting thing for an organizer to say. “From day one, this hasn’t been my campaign, it’s been our campaign,” Monning says.
While he may not be quite as famous as a certain Grammy-award winning musician, Laird (who didn’t endorse in the race) receives his share of woops and claps at Monning’s celebration. He’s soon to be out of a job, but the popular Assemblyman says, “I’m rather Zen about it right now. When you get older you realize life is a series of experiences, and none of them last forever. There is going to be something new, and I’m sure it will be good.” Maybe Buddhist monk. Or Jedi master.