A race to fill an open state Assembly seat in the East Bay is shaping up to be one of the costliest local elections in California.
Campaign finance reports filed ahead of this week's deadline show seven Democrats running in the 15th Assembly District raised more than $1.2 million in 2017, more than any Assembly race in the state.
When Assemblyman Tony Thurmond announced a run for State Superintendent of Public Instruction, it opened up a chance to represent one of the state's most liberal districts, which stretches north from Oakland to Hercules, and includes the cities of Berkeley and Richmond.
"It's a plum district for Democrats," said Larry Tramutola, a political strategist based in the district. "History has shown us that if you can get elected to this Assembly seat, you’re probably there until your term limits expire or you desire to go to higher office."
The opportunity to hold the seat for up to 12 years in the Assembly has drawn a handful of local elected officials into the race, including Richmond vice mayor Jovanka Beckles, Oakland councilman Dan Kalb, El Cerrito councilwoman Rochelle Pardue-Okimoto, Berkeley councilman Ben Bartlett, East Bay MUD Director Andy Katz and Berkeley Unified School District board member Judy Appel.