The outline of a potentially bruising Democratic primary battle in the new 19th Senate District is taking shape, as key players are taking sides and beginning to assert their preferences for either Oxnard firefighter and Harbor District Commissioner Jason Hodge or former Assemblywoman Hannah-Beth Jackson of Santa Barbara.
Last week the Tri-Counties Building Trades labor group, which includes about 25 local unions representing such workers as electricians, laborers, sheetmetal workers and operating engineers, weighed in on Hodge's behalf. In a press release announcing the group's endorsement, business representative Tony Skinner wrote that although Hodge has yet to make a formal announcement, "We see no reason to wait to endorse Jason Hodge as the best leader to represent the working families of the Central Coast in Sacramento."
The announcement could portend further labor support for Hodge as the campaign develops.
On Monday, the Jackson camp countered with a from-the-heart fund-raising appeal from Assemblyman Das Williams of Santa Barbara, who called Jackson "my mentor."
Notably, Williams' appeal focused on education issues. "The biggest lesson that I took away from my first legislative session is how important it is to have legislators who are passionate about saving California's most precious resource: our public education system," he wrote.
That suggests that the California Teachers Associations, one of the most important labor groups that traditionally has participated heavily in Democratic primaries, is still in play.