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Assemblyman Marc Levine. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

2020 March Primary Preview: 10th State Assembly District

California Globe takes an inside look into the 10th State Assembly District primary race

By Evan Symon, February 6, 2020 7:11 am

The 10th State Assembly District:

North Bay, pretty much where the Golden Gate Bridge ends heading up North to about the middle of Wine Country in Sonoma. Anchored around San Rafael, the 10th District fits the Bay Area pattern of being Democrat.

Jerry Brown won by almost 80% here in 2014 and Donald Trump got 18% of the vote here in 2016. Even among Democratic districts the 10th is pretty blue. 54% of the district is registered Democrat, so even with undecided voters and a margin of error any Democratic candidate can carry the district barring scandal or other issues. And with more wealthy Democrats coming up from San Francisco and Silicon Valley, the district is only going to get more blue in the foreseeable future.

History of the 10th:

Despite being an all-Democrat show, the 10th has had some surprises in the recent past.

In 2012, incumbent Assemblyman Michael Allen won big in the primary and was projected to beat his opponent, Assemblyman Marc Levine (D-Greenbrae). Despite being outspent 5 to 1, being under 40, and only coming in with prior experience as a city councilman in San Rafael, Levine won a narrow 51% to 49% race. Since then he has thumped Democrat and Republican challenger alike, albeit with closer races going up against fellow Democrats. Anyone going up against Levine is pretty much a sacrificial lamb candidate at this point.

Levine is almost essentially a lock to win again in 2020, but rumblings against fellow area Democrat lawmakers with similar liberal platforms, such as Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) directly south, may give some candidates hope to have their own 2012-type upset.

Marc Levine:

The current Assemblyman since his 2012 upset, Marc Levine comes in stronger than ever. Levine, the former San Rafael City Councilman and current Chair of the California Legislative Jewish Caucus, has voted for and written almost exclusively left-leaning bills.

Levine has a soft spot for environmental issues, supporting everything from plastic bag bans to coastal cleanup laws. However he also backed the Assembly counterpart bill to Senator Steve Glazer’s (D-Orinda) SB 8, a smoking ban on state beaches and parks mired with numerous issues and backdoor dealings. Animal bills, with such issues as cage-free eggs and allowing dogs to be with owners outside at restaurants, have also been a popular theme with him.

With the backing of the party, prominent politicians, labor unions, and favored groups in the district such as Planned Parenthood, Levine has high amounts of support and ready-to-go financial backers in case a race gets close. Vineyard owners and tech workers alike have shown a lot of support for him. Beating him will be a challenge to say at least.

Veronica Jacobi:

Former Santa Rosa Councilwoman Veronica Jacobi. (Ballotpedia)

Former Santa Rosa City Councilwoman and environmentalist Veronica “Roni” Jacobi is the closest candidate to Levine in the 10th district race. A perennial candidate in Assembly and Senate races, Jacobi has come in second place in many primaries. In the 2016 Assembly race she beat out the lone Republican with 17% of the vote before losing to Levine 68% to 32% in the General election. Her 2018 Senate campaign didn’t fare much better when she again made second place in the Primary before falling in the General against Senator Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg) 67% to 33%.

What makes her a competitor are her strong environmental and union ties. She’s been involved in area environmental issues for years, serving on various councils and boards all over Sonoma County and the Bay Area. And her union participation, notably being an activist for United Farm Workers (UFW) has helped her vote numbers in the past.

While her numerous environmental topics almost make her a one-note candidate, she has also gone on record about health care and crime as other big issues as well. Each time she has run she has shown small improvements, and while 2020 may not be her year, the first year with a seat with no incumbent may be hers thanks to the years of name recognition.

Republican Ron Sundergaard and Democrat Ted Cabral are also running but are currently not tracking very high. Sundergaard may get a surprise second place if there is a big enough Democrat split, but it’s unlikely.

What does this mean?:

The election in the 10th will most likely be a repeat of 2016, with Levine coming in first and Jacobi a distant second in both the Primary and the General. Assemblyman Levine simply has that much inertia at this point in time.

But this race should still be looked at for several reasons. A better result for Jacobi could convince the party to back her in the next open race, especially if she manages to hit 40%. A big win can also give Levine the boost he needs for a future run at a higher office. And the way the votes go can also be an indicator of just how much support the Democrats truly have in the district. For any Congressional run going through here it would save a ton on advertisements.

This is an open-and-shut win for Levine, but several future party decisions heading into the 2020’s may be influenced by the outcomes in the Primary and the General.

Evan Symon
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