Champion of Working Families to Run for State Assembly
The latest San Jose council member to run for state Assembly will be Ash Kalra, and he may have to once again battle some of his current and former colleagues to get there.
Kalra, a two-term councilman representing the southeast San Jose District 2, announced Wednesday that he will run in the November 2016 election to replace Nora Campos, who by will be termed out of Assembly District 27, which includes most of San Jose. It was hardly unexpected, as political insiders have long been pointing to the seat as a likely next step for Kalra, who is also termed out at the end of 2016.
Kalra has made a reputation for siding with city employees in strongly opposing what he considers over-the-top fiscal reform measures backed by former Mayor Chuck Reed and his successor, Sam Liccardo. More recently, he has moved to broaden his profile, leading an effort this week for the city to formally oppose a regional oil train facility project based in San Luis Obispo County, and chairing regional transit and air quality boards.
Kalra is strongly backed by public-sector unions, who figure to form a solid base of financial support for his Assembly run starting with a kickoff event Jan. 31. He hopes to follow a familiar playbook to victory. Campos was backed by the well-funded unions during her time on the San Jose City Council and then in her run for Assembly, as was former Councilman Kansen Chu, who was elected to represent the neighboring Assembly district in November.
While no one else has publicly declared as a candidate, Kalra acknowledged the open seat will likely attract a large field starting with the June 2016 primary.
In local political circles, both Madison Nguyen, who recently termed out as San Jose's vice mayor, and Rose Herrera, who was elevated to vice mayor this week and will term out in 2016, have been mentioned as potential contenders for the seat. Both are opposed by unions and often voted against Kalra in council debates. Neither had any immediate reaction to his announcement Wednesday. Herrera was out of town on city business.
"Regardless of who runs, I don't think there's anyone who has the policy experience, the regional leadership and the relentless commitment to the community that I do," Kalra said Wednesday.
Source: San Jose Mercury News - January 15, 2015