The pick by Swanson, one of the most progressive leaders in the Assembly, is viewed by many to be a potential gamechanger in the race for replace him in the Assembly between fellow Democrats Bonta and Peralta Community College Trustee Abel Guillen. The redrawn 18th District encompasses a majority of Swanson's current constituentcy in the East Bay, including Oakland and Alameda. Swanson is termed this November and is expected to run for the State Senate in 2016.
Bonta's big week started last Sunday afternoon when he snagged the endorsement of the Democratic Party at a caucus in San Leandro. Guillen supporters have raised gripes since that Bonta's campaign had used new party rules to procure the votes of delegates from Southern California. Bonta barely passed the 60 percent threshold for the endorsement.
Swanson's support, though, is not a total surprise. He voted for Bonta at Sunday's caucus, as did State Sen. Ellen Corbett. Swanson's exuberance for backing Bonta was evident when his office tweeted news of the endorsement late Wednesday night, including a photo of himself with the candidate. The tweet preceeded an annoucement an hour later on Facebook and Twitter.
On Thursday morning, Swanson said, "It has truly been an honor to represent the East Bay in the California State Assembly, and I am looking forward to passing the baton to a new leader to represent Oakland, Alameda and San Leandro.
Over the past several months, I have given serious consideration to the Democratic candidates running to succeed me. I have carefully considered their values, experience and vision for the future. It is now clear to me that Rob Bonta is the best choice for the California State Assembly."
Swanson's endorsement is a seen as a huge blow to Guillen's progressive credentials in an area where such an ideological worldview is a prerequisite for most politicians. During the primary season, there was a belief among many observers that Guillen was the most progressive candidate in the race that also once included AC Transit board member Joel Young. Many pointed to his position on moving the assets of the Peralta Community College from big banking insitutions to smaller community-based banks as proof of his stellar progressive chops. Nevertheless, Bonta won the June primary by six points over Guillen with over 36 percent of the vote.
One East Bay consultant, who is not working on either campaign in the 18th District, said Swanson's backing also lends credence to the idea the Democratic leadership in Sacramento is beginning to rally around Bonta as its potential newest member.