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Potter, right, enjoys the support of fellow Supervisor and former Judge John Phillips

Dave Potter’s transformation is nearly complete. About all that’s left for him to do is change his registration.

Throughout his political career, Potter, the 5th District Monterey County supervisor, has been a Democrat and has enjoyed considerable support from the party and its spinoffs. This year, however, the best he could do endorsement-wise was a co-endorsement from the local party, which also endorsed his opponent in the June election, Mary Adams.

Adams, meanwhile, also received the endorsements of party-related groups that used to endorse Potter, such as the Democratic Women of Monterey County. Adams also picked up endorsements from the Monterey County chapter of the Progressive Democrats of America and the Salinas Valley Democratic Club.

Demonstrating how far Potter has drifted away from the progressive crowd that once supported him, one of his latest mailers (SEE BELOW) includes lengthy endorsement messages from one of the GOP’s most outspoken local activists, Paul Bruno, and longtime Republican bigwig Jeff Davi.

Davi was California’s real estate commissioner under Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarznegger (though the mailer makes him out to be the current commissioner.) He is perhaps best known for his agency’s nearly complete failure to prosecute any real estate interests during the height of the mortgage crisis. Some will also remember that Davi was Potter’s opponent in his first campaign for a seat on the Board of Supervisors.

Bruno would have been a Ted Cruz delegate if his favored candidate had stayed in the presidential race. He says in the mailer that he is a fan of Potter’s as well because “for me, it is all about good government.” He goes on to say that Potter has “an impressive record on issues of importance to us – jobs, the economy and fiscal responsibility.” Look for specifics in the next mailer, perhaps.

Bruno, some will recall, is the fellow who dragged a chain out to a political demonstration on Highway 1. He was going to haul the protesters away until the CHP made him stop. He’s also the fellow whose company, Monterey Peninsula Engineering, seems to have a lock on Cal Am pipeline work.

Also pictured in the same flyer is Potter endorser Steve Bernal, the young sheriff of Monterey County, also a proud Republican.

In his campaigns of old, Potter touted endorsements from the Sierra Club, Democratic legislators Bill Monning and Mark Stone. Not this time. His flyers of old included kind words from LandWatch activists. Not this time.

Clearly the mailer featuring Bruno, Davi and Bernal was tailored to Republican households in the district – Monterey, Carmel, Pacific Grove, Carmel Valley, Big Sur and the Highway 68 corridor – so it makes sense that he emphasizes the economy and public safety rather than the environment and social issues. The big headline on the mailer, featuring a photo of Bixby Bridge, is “Bridging the divide,” but the mailer never goes on to explain what divide he means.

There is another mailer, of course, for Democratic households. In it, Potter is still in favor of attracting jobs and economic growth, but in this version he wants to do that “without threatening the quality of life that makes us unique.” (By omitting that caution from the GOP version, is he telling his Republican constituents that he’s OK with threatening the quality of life?)

In the GOP version, he’s all about growth and jobs. In the Democratic version, “He’s said no to bad development projects that poorly impact our water supply and traffic.” In the GOP version, he doesn’t mention the environment. Not at all.

In both versions, he lists a number of organizations endorsing him this time around. They include:

That last one is particularly interesting. Not unexpected, but interesting. The Salinas Valley Leadership Group was formed primarily by contractor Don Chapin. Its board of directors includes Brian Finegan, the Salinas lawyer who specializes in representing real estate developers; architect Peter Kasavan, who helped design the proposed Salinas general plan element that calls for Salinas to expand onto prime farmland; and accountant Warren Wayland, who handles campaign reporting duties for most Republican candidates in the area.

Dues-paying members of the SVLG include Monterey Downs racetrack principals Brian Boudreau and Beth Palmer, Salinas promoter and bar owner David Drew, Monterey PR man David Armanasco, the head of the deeply troubled Alco Water System, and the builder and developer of the Ferrini Ranch development that Potter voted against after it became clear that it would win county approval regardless of his vote.

Potter’s mailer to both Democrat and GOP households mentions his endorsements from law enforcement unions. Oddly enough, the mailers to Democratic homes includes blurbs from his endorsements by the Monterey County Weekly and the Herald, but those aren’t mentioned in the mailers sent to Republicans.

In the mailers to the Dems, Potter touts his endorsement by a group called Evolve California, which also endorsed Adams. He doesn’t mention Evolve in the GOP version, however. Perhaps that’s because in order to get the Evolve nod, he said he favored increasing taxes on the wealthy and increasing property taxes for businesses. Potter’s making a big deal in this campaign about being the experienced candidate. What he’s demonstrating with his mailers is that he has plenty of experience tailoring his message to his audience, no matter what he really thinks.

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Hand holding out a stack of money tied to the end of a stick for briberyParker getting support from labor and environmentalists

Monterey County supervisorial candidate Dennis Donohue is running away with the race for campaign cash, collecting more than four times as much as incumbent Jane Parker thanks to an avalanche of money from business and ag interests.

Though Donohue’s campaign didn’t total the contributions in campaign reports filed Thursday, it appears to have raised about $464,000 so far, leaving Parker’s campaign far behind at just $96,580.

Donohue is the former mayor of Salinas and he’s campaigning on a platform of growth and economic development, which includes expanding his city and pushing for accelerated development at Fort Ord. His opponent is veteran Supervisor Jane Parker of Seaside, who has been the Board of Supervisors’ leading and sometimes only voice for the environment and slow growth.

In an interesting note, while Donohue has received a pile of six-figure checks from farming interests, Parker also received quiet support from key figures in the ag community. Mike Antle of produce giant Tanimura & Antle contributed $1,000 to the Parker campaign while Rosa Mata Boutonnet of Ocean Mist Farms and Dale Huss of Sea Mist Farms each contributed $2,500.

Parker’s other large contributors included Brigitte Wasserman of Carmel, $6,000; the Democratic Women of Monterey County, $5,000; Lowell Figen of Monterey and Constance Murray of Carmel Valley, $4,000; Edwina Bent of Carmel, Bruce Sterten of Carmel, and Peggy McMahan of Carmel Valley, $2,500 each; Donald Reed of Monterey, $3,000; Chris and Karen Mack, and Julia Bates of Carmel, $2,000; retired physician Charles Bates of Carmel and Bill Weigle of Seaside, $1,500 each; Michael DeLapa, $1,100; and Ethnobotanica of Watsonville, Andrew Allison of Carmel, Sherwood Darlington of the Ag Land Trust, consultant Shirley Devol, David Garnham of Carmel, Ann Helms, Jana Matheson of Carmel, the Building and Construction Trades Council, Curtis Spitler of Monterey, Gillian Taylor of Carmel Valley, $1,000 each.

Look for the Donohue campaign to point out that the lion’s share of Parker’s support is from outside the 4th District and for the Parker campaign to point out that the vast majority of Donohue’s support is from Salinas Valley ag interests, mostly with little connection to the district, which takes in Seaside, Marina and a slice of Salinas. Donohue works in the produce industry.

Donohue’s biggest bucks so far have come from the Monterey Bay Business PAC at $50,000 and the Salinas Valley Leadership Group at $40,000. The business PAC was formed by associations representing the Peninsula hotel industry, the Farm Bureau, the Grower-Shipper Association and the Vintner-Growers Association though the current president of the vintner group says it is no longer a member. It was created more than a decade ago largely to counter the influence of the environmentalist LandWatch Monterey County, which often shares positions with Parker.  The Salinas Valley Leadership Group was formed by contractor Don Chapin and has been one of the biggest contributors to local campaigns in recent years.

Contributing $20,000 apiece to the Donohue campaign were farming interests D’Arrigo Brothers, Church Brothers, Taylor-Fresh Foods, Gowan Seed, Mann Packing and JV Farms. American Farms gave $10,000 contributors and the following gave $5,000 apiece – Salinas Valley Ford, Rodney Braga, ASA Organics, Al Pak Labor, NR Partners, Gill Ranch, Scheid Vineyards, Bengard Harvesting, Seco Packing, Mary Orradre and Jane Allison. Growers Joseph Pezzini and Troy Boutonnet contributed $2,500 apiece to the Donohue effort

Developer Samuel Kobrinsky gave $5,000, Old Fisherman’s Grotto in Monterey gave $2,500 and Bankers Casino in Salinas gave $1,000.



If you like your politics rough, you may enjoy the classic contest shaping up between Monterey County Supervisor Jane Parker and former Salinas Mayor Dennis Donohue for the right to represent District 4, which takes in Seaside, Marina and some of Salinas.

New campaign expenditure reports show that Donohue has tapped into his colleagues from agribusiness, picking up $20,000 checks from some of the Salinas Valley heavy hitters. The reports also show that Donohue has been working with two campaign management firms with reputations for sharp-elbow tactics. One of them, Pivotal Campaign Services, features Christian Schneider, who teamed with local Brandon Gesicki last year to run the below-the-belt campaign that dislodged Sheriff Scott Miller and replaced him with under-qualified Steve Bernal.

Donohue also has been paying for advice from Robert Dempsey, who in just two years went from being executive director of the state Democratic Parties in Vermont, North Carolina and Virginia to freelance campaign manager. On this coast, he is best known for his coaching of San Diego Congressman Scott Peters, who rode to a 2014 victory over a Tea Party-backed challenger in a campaign that is considered one of the nastiest in San Diego history, which is saying something.


Donohue campaign consultant Robert Dempsey

Donohue is, like Parker, a Democrat but he fancies himself as a champion of commerce and innovation. The tone of his campaign was likely set at his formal announcement last month when Del Rey Oaks Mayor Jerry Edelen labeled Parker’s supporters as “radical zealots” intent on imposing a “primitive” lifestyle on the citizenry.

Parker supporters bristle at the description, but she does have the environmental vote sewn up. In her two board terms, she often has been the lone vote against major development proposals, most of which have featured glaring deficiencies such as inadequate water supplies.  Supervisor Dave Potter, who is facing a big-league challenge from Mary Adams, has joined Parker on the losing side of some development votes in recent months but it appears to be campaign strategy rather than a genuine philosophical shift.

In terms of political style, the candidates are opposites as well. Parker is quiet and studious, conscientiously reading the voluminous staff reports that often go unopened on the desks of some of her board colleagues. Donohue is boisterous and even boastful, full of ideas but not necessarily the means to carry them through. He has been heavily involved in produce sales and marketing most of his life.

In the money-collection period that ended in December, Donohue picked up just over $100,000, putting his total at $164,000. Big spenders in his camp, at $20,000 apiece, were Rick Antle of the Tanimura & Antle produce concern,  Newstar Fresh Foods, Nunes Co. and, of course, the Salinas Valley Leadership Group. That is the political action committee put together by contractor Don Chapin to pursue a pro-development agenda at every level of government. Not far behind was Church Brothers, another large agri-biz concern, at $15,000.

While Donohue was receiving his $100,000, Parker was picking up $34,900, but her campaign treasury stood at $147,000, including some loans.

Her biggest contributor for the period at $9,250 was Shirley Devol of Carmel, who lists her occupation as consultant. Her late husband, Kenneth, was a journalism professor. Others writing sizable checks to the Parker campaign were women’s rights activist Margaret Schink, $2,500; the Democratic Women of Monterey County, $2,000; Harriet Mitteldorf and school counselor Doreen Gray, $1,500 apiece; and Monterey neighborhood activist Mike Dawson, physicist David Fried, Ann Fitzpatrick of Salinas, Lowel Figen, George Thomas and art dealer Susan Schlumberger, $1,000 apiece.

Other notable contributors to Parker were state Sen. Bill Monning, $274, and Peninsula water activist George Riley, $224.

Parker’s campaign advisers, according to the filings, are the Lew Edwards Group in Oakland and community activist Elizabeth Panetta.  Lew Edwards principal Catherine Lew has managed numerous campaigns up and down California.

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