A few quick thoughts on the pending announcement this evening that Stephen Whitburn will jump into the race for county Supervisor Ron Roberts’ race:

  • Two things to watch: Whitburn’s wallet and labor’s love.

    For both, let’s look back to the 2008 race for City Council in District 3. Whitburn plowed more than $210,000 into his campaign. As my pal Scott Lewis wrote in this piece at the time, it’s not rare for rich candidates to do that. It’s just that no one knew Whitburn had that kind of money. His campaign said it was simple: He wasn’t a millionaire, just frugal. He’d been squirreling the money away.

    So, does Whitburn have more cash tucked away to help finance a run?

    Considering the sizable fundraising advantage incumbents have at the county, a couple hundred thousand dollars could help level the playing field.

    That 2008 campaign between Whitburn and eventual winner Todd Gloria got ugly. For one, there was this brutal mailer.

    But the big story was Whitburn’s blow up with labor. The Labor Council’s endorsement was going to be important in the race, and after it chose Gloria, Whitburn’s campaign went public with a behind-the-scenes accusation like few candidates ever do.

    Whitburn’s campaign said the real reason labor didn’t pick him was because he wouldn’t pledge his support to labor’s pick for council president over Donna Frye. (Frye is Whitburn’s most high-profile supporter.)

    So do they make amends?

    It’s hard to imagine a Democrat toppling Roberts without labor’s support.

  • This decision is directly related to Donna Frye’s decision not to run. Frye has been Whitburn’s most high-profile advocate and Whitburn had created the Facebook page urging Frye to challenge Roberts.
  • Roberts now has a couple of challengers, which is a couple more than it looked like he was going to have in the wake of Frye’s announcement. But a Frye vs. Roberts would have been a major heavyweight showdown. I’m not saying it can’t or won’t happen, but if Whitburn or Shelia Jackson were to beat Roberts it would be a major upset.

— ANDREW DONOHUE

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