Board of Equalization
Districts 2 - 40
Democrats: Hal Brown of San Anselmo, Diane
Martinez of Rosemead. Republican: Incumbent Charles Quackenbush of Sacramento.
American Independent: Merton Short of Durham. Libertarian: Dale Ogden. Natural
Law: Barbara Bourdette of Solana Beach. Peace and Freedom: Tom Condit
of Berkeley, Gary Ramos of Commerce.
Considering that the insurance commissioner is one
of the few statewide constitutional offices with some real practical power, the field
of contestants lining up to take a shot at Republican incumbent Charles Quackenbush
is surprisingly thin. Only two Democrats have jumped in, and neither carries any
statewide name recognition.
The first to enter the race was Marin County Supervisor Hal Brown. Brown, who has
been a supervisor since 1983, has some famous family ties - his uncle is former Governor
Edmund G. "Pat" Brown, and his first cousins are former Governor Jerry
Brown and gubernatorial candidate Kathleen Brown. Brown has trained most of his fire
on Quackenbush, in the process gathering an impressive array of endorsements from
many of the traditional Democratic constituency groups. Just about every news release
issued from his campaign includes some variation of the line: "nephew of former
Governor Pat Brown," or "cousin of former Governor Jerry Brown."
Of course, Brown's Democratic rival also carries a name that is well known, at least
in some circles. Democratic Assemblywoman Diane Martinez is the daughter of Representative
Matthew Martinez (D-Los Angeles). Few legislators currently serving in Sacramento
have as colorful a reputation as Martinez. Often bellicose and frequently insulting
to colleagues, committee witnesses and just about everyone else, Martinez is one
of the least liked members of the Legislature. Nonetheless, her endorsement list
includes a number of her soon-to-be former colleagues, including Assembly Speaker
While Martinez' Sacramento ties may help her somewhat with fund raising, her penchant
for alienating the lobbying corps - which is often called upon to make fund-raising
recommendations to clients - will likely keep her from cleaning up too heavily. And
with Brown having both the institutional endorsements and the more famous name, it
is likely Martinez will spend most of her time playing catch-up. But this much is
certain: With Martinez in the hunt, the Democratic primary for insurance commissioner
will be anything but dull.
- Article by Steve Scott