Monday, April 13, 2009

Will Jean Quan Take on Don Perata?

By Robert Gammon
Mon, Apr 13, 2009 at 10:56 AM

Oakland City Councilwoman Jean Quan may be emerging as one of the leading challengers to ex-state Senator Don Perata's bid to become the city's next mayor. According to the Chron, Quan "is having voter mobilizing house parties," although she has yet to officially throw her hat into the ring. But her quotes in the paper make it sound as if she's preparing to run. "A lot of people are supportive of me," she said. "They want somebody who is on the frontlines solving problems."

Quan's support likely will come from a coalition of progressives, labor, and environmentalists against the more moderate Perata, who likely will be backed predominantly by the business community. That may help explain why the councilwoman has been pushing hard the last few months to raise taxes to fix the city's budget problems and to help maintain city parks - as opposed to asking Oakland's powerful unions for concessions. As we have written before, we're not against raising taxes generally, but it just doesn't make sense in a steep recession.

So why hasn't Quan jumped in the race yet? It may be because she's waiting to see what Ron Dellums decides to do and to see if Perata gets indicted. Dellums would be expected to get the labor and progressives coalition, along with significant support from the black community. But it would be surprising if the mayor decides to seek a second term. Remember, he had to be begged into running the first time, and his heart just hasn't been in it the past two-plus years. As for Perata, it's anybody's guess as to what will happen with the five-plus-year federal probe of him, but one thing appears certain - we should know one way or another this year because the statute of limitations on some of the allegations against him will be expiring.

As for Dellums, if he doesn't run, African-American leaders will undoubtedly look for a candidate to take on Perata, whose support in the black community has dwindled in the past decade. One name to keep in mind - Robert Bobb. The African-American former city manager is currently running Detroit's troubled school system, but that job is expected to end in December, and according to sources, he plans to move back to Oakland soon. Bobb could be a formidable opponent against Perata, because he could siphon off some of the senator's business community support.

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