Commentary: A fight for power in Sacramento tests boundaries of campaign finance law
When a political campaign for the state legislature first announced his intentions to run in 2014, Mike Du Bose was all too familiar with the “novelty factor” he called an advantage in such races. In 2007, he was elected to the state Senate, losing a contested race to Republican Mark Yancey. It was a good run, but not good enough for him to win the Senate seat being vacated by the retiring Susan Davis.
The race between Yancey and Davis was one of those “novelty factor” campaigns, in which politicians announce their candidacies months in advance of an election. No matter who won the race, the person leaving office would be well-recognized by voters.
But when, on May 22, 2015, it was announced Du Bose was the Democratic candidate to replace Davis, few voters knew his name. Many thought Du Bose would run in the Republican primary with Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones.
Du Bose’s profile, unlike most others of that category, is far greater than his candidacy suggests. A native of Sacramento, DuBose graduated from the University of the Pacific in 2004. He then took a job with U.S. Forest Service in Stanislaus and was there during the 2003 wildfires, which destroyed 4,400 structures. “There was a huge exodus of first, second, third and fourth-generation Americans,” he said.
By 2009, he had moved to the Central Valley and was on the water staff of the Sacramento Bee. He was a staffer on a bill to save the nation’s oldest bridge for 20 years when the bridge to nowhere was being built at the end of the year.
In 2011, he was appointed to the state Highway Board of Directors. “There I was able to take a huge leap in my career,” Du Bose said. He was voted in as chair of the board and was the only Democrat on the board.
In October 2011, DuBose ran his first successful campaign when he won a special election on a ballot for the San Francisco State Senator seat. Then the political world was calling him about the opportunity to run for the position once held by former House Speaker Gordon Smith, who was retiring and who had been a popular leader.
“I could tell I was going to be something special