Democratic State Assemblywoman Rebecca Bauer-Kahan received more than two-thirds of the vote in the March open primary race to keep her District 16 seat against sole Republican challenger Joseph Rubay.
However, Rubay believes he has a solid chance to unseat her when the two face off again Nov. 3.
“This is a moderate-conservative district,” Rubay said of the seat representing Livermore, Dublin, Pleasanton and 10 Contra Costa County communities and cities. “I have a good shot.”
Bauer-Kahan, who narrowly defeated Republican incumbent Catharine Baker to take the seat in 2014, is seeking her second term in a district with 305,000 voters registered as 43% Democrats, 25% Republicans and 26% with no party preference. In March’s primary, Bauer-Kahan took 68% of the vote.
“I believe that I have kept my promises to our electorate and that I have truly represented all of my constituents in my time in the Assembly, and their support is indicative of those achievements,” said Bauer-Kahan, who turns 42 on Oct. 28. “I am very hopeful that the voters of District 16 will place their trust in me once again to represent them in Sacramento for another term.”
Bauer-Kahan, an environmental attorney living in Orinda with her spouse and three children, said she promised to be a voice for the entire district when she ran for the seat. She stated that 15 of the bills she authored that passed in the legislature did so with bipartisan support. The issues included climate change, preserving Tesla Park in Livermore, gun safety, criminal justice reform, local transportation and the streamlining of government processes to save money.
She also cited protections against wildfires and abortion rights as among her priorities.
“I have also stood up to party leadership in the Assembly when it’s in the best interest of our community,” she said. “And I have consistently stood up to the special interests in Sacramento, including PG&E, big tobacco, big oil, drug companies, the NRA and more.”
Rubay, a 61-year-old husband and father of two who lives in Alamo, said the legislature needs more Republican voices. He said he would have received more votes had Republicans had a presidential primary race as the Democrats did, which he believes brought more Democratic voters to the polls. Rubay reached 41% in early returns, but he noted that Democrats did “an excellent job of bringing in votes from I don’t where that came in late.” He finished at 32%.
“I’m expecting a close race,” he said.
In California’s open primary system, the top two candidates regardless of party face off in the November election. In this case, Rubay and Bauer-Kahan were the top two.
On the issues, Rubay stands for smaller government and against government regulation. He said he wants to keep the district from becoming too urbanized, like Oakland and San Francisco. He has cited transportation, public safety and education as some of his key issues. He supports a BART station in the Livermore-Pleasanton area and a train along Highway 580. He has also suggested building a freeway south of Pleasanton to connect the Central Valley to Santa Clara.
Additionally, he wants to repeal the state’s so-called ‘Sanctuary Law,” which bans local police from working with federal-immigration agents, and opposes statewide rent control.
“We are almost opposite on every proposition (on the Nov. 3 ballot,)” Rubay said. “She is pro rent control, but (Proposition) 21 is a rent-control measure I am definitely against. Almost every measure we take opposite sides.”
Bauer-Kahan has previously cited public education, climate change, environmental protection and improving transportation as among her top concerns, but responding to the COVID-19 pandemic is now at the top of the list, including helping small businesses and getting children back to school. She credited local communities with their efforts to deal with the pandemic, but said the state could have done a better job of providing consistent and clear guidance for our communities and businesses.
“As our knowledge of the virus has grown, we have done our best to meet the moment,” she said, adding that officials have learned what needs to be done to help people in care facilities and to demand higher standards from health providers.
Rubay said the state’s rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic also concerns him. He noted that businesses are struggling to get back to life and many may never reopen. Rubay said Gov. Gavin Newsom’s blanket, statewide measures to stop the virus should have instead come from local officials, because different areas had different concerns.
He said Newsom should have better protected the elderly, especially those in nursing and assisted-living homes, and people with comorbidities early on to curb the crisis.
“I am a person who wants us to be as safe as possible,” Rubay said. “Republicans believe in the individual ... (Democrats) believe government is the answer. Their politics are absolutely wrong for our district.”
On systemic racism issues raised since the police-involved killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, which led to protests across the nation, Rubay said, “We do not have it.”
Rubay, who serves on the Alamo Police Services Advisory Committee, said the Black Lives Matter movement, and support from athletes, was about obtaining reparations.
Bauer-Kahan said she and her colleagues have passed strong police use-of-force standards while mandating de-escalation and use-of-force training. They banned carotid choke-holds and called for more transparency and oversight. Bauer-Kahan was recently appointed to the Assembly’s Select Committee on Police Reform.
Bauer-Kahan also voted in 2019 for AB5, a measure that requires companies to reclassify independent contractors meeting certain criteria as employees, to comply with a court ruling. The controversial measure, which requires employers to provide health insurance, sick time and other protections to workers, affects app-based drivers and numerous other professions.
She then voted for two measures in August that exempted several professions that complained. Bauer-Kahan called AB5 an imperfect decision to comply with a judge’s ruling, and that she and her colleagues in the legislature will continue to refine it in the next session.
Rubay wants to repeal the measure entirely.