Tuesday, February 23, 2016

SD9: Democrat Katherine Welch wants to make the East Bay great again

SD9 Democratic candidate Katherine Welch
If you were wondering how long it would take for elements of Donald Trump's brash anti-government campaign strategy to trickle down to the local level, take a look at the least known Democrat in the East Bay's Ninth State Senate District race.

Earlier indications are Katherine Welch's bid to wedge her campaign into the November general election at the expense of her more seasoned fellow Democrats in the race--Sandre Swanson and Nancy Skinner--includes taking a page out of Trump's presidential playbook of anti-government rhetoric, albeit sans the billowing bravado.

Taking a cue from the phrase that famously adorns Trump's red caps, much of Welch's earlier rhetoric can be described as "Make the East Bay Great Again."

During an appearance along with Swanson and Skinner in Oakland last month, Welch said leaders in Sacramento are doing little to help their constituents.

"We are neglecting our community and I can't take it anymore. I've never run for anything in my life, but I realize now that it's time to take a stand and stand up for what most of the people in community believe in, which is when you take care of our kids, when we take of our working families, when we take care of the least fortunate among us, everything rises and I don't think we're doing that.

"We're not doing it for affordable housing, we're not doing it for infrastructure, we're not doing it for transportation. We're not planning for anything and so we're picking up the pieces of the community that we don't take care of."

The notion state leaders are neglecting to prepare for the future, elicited an exaggerated raised eyebrow from Skinner.

Perhaps a bit more Trump-like, Welch's campaign manager, acting as a stand-in for the candidate at the Alameda Democratic Club, said poor education is allowing the country to fall behind the rest of the world. Later, he added, "Your government doesn't care about you." He also asserted the state no longer invents anything any more. Again, the comment forced a reaction from Skinner, who quietly shook her head in disagreement.

A focus on improving education is not surprising from the first-time candidate. Welch, sat on the board of the education reform movement known as Educate Our State. In addition, she is the daughter of former General Electric chairman Jack Welch. The familial connection has many wondering whether Welch can tap into deep pockets to fund her campaign.

Initial campaign finance reports, indeed, showed a strong year-end showing by Welch's campaign. Although far less than Skinner's nearly $1.1 million cash reserves, Welch actually began the year with $108,000 cash on hand, which is more than Swanson's $100,000 war chest.


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