Why Obama endorsed in a California Assembly race

In addition to endorsing Democrat Gavin Newsom (no surprise) in the race for governor, former President Barack Obama stepped into a Bay Area Assembly race, endorsing first-time candidate Buffy Wicks over Richmond City Councilwoman Jovanka Beckles.

There’s history: Wicks was an early employee of Obama’s first presidential campaign, was a grassroots organizer for the 2008 and 2012 races and was an integral part of the White House effort to generate support for the Affordable Care Act.

Several former Obama administration officials have donated to her, including Obama’s chief strategist David Axelrod and 2008 campaign manager David Plouffe.

You might figure Wicks’ credentials would mesh with the state’s most liberal districts. She’s a veteran of organized labor’s campaign against Wal-Mart. But the National Democratic Socialists of America endorsed Beckles, as did the California Labor Federation.

Steve Smith of the Labor Fed: “It primarily boils down to the fact that Beckles is known and has been a solid vote for working people …  Wicks was less of a known commodity to them.”

Money matters: Beckles enters the general election with $25,000 in the bank to Wicks’ $101,000. Wicks has received donations from Sacramento players including the California Medical and Dental associations. Govern for California, a political action committee founded by David Crane (a CALmatters donor), spent more than $450,000 on an independent campaign during the primary for Wicks.

This story originally appeared in WhatMatters, our daily roundup of the most important policy and politics news in California. Subscribe here.

Latest in Blogs

Democratic presidential candidates Pete Buttigieg, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Kamala Harris before the start of the Democratic primary debate hosted by NBC News at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, Thursday, June 27, 2019, in Miami.


Frontrunner no more: California poll puts Harris on top and Biden (way) down

Animal rights advocate Deborah Classen holds a poster featuring rabbits to support a bill that would ban fur from wild animals., at a Capitol hearing July 9, 2019.


Fur flies as California moves closer to a statewide ban


Introducing a new look for CalMatters

Students are joining teachers in the rain today on the picket line at Marshall High School in Los Angeles, as an LAUSD teachers strike began. Photo by David Crane/Los Angeles Daily News


If L.A. won’t raise taxes for schools, will Californians vote to overhaul a Proposition 13?

Gov. Gavin Newsom surrounded by legislators at the 2019 State of the State address in the Capitol. Photo by Andrew Nixon, Capital Public Radio


Newsom’s biggest budget win? Lawmakers didn’t break his heart


A million independent voters risk being irrelevant in California’s presidential primary