With ex-Elk Grove mayor rumored to be declaring candidacy, is a Davis, Spease, Suen slate on the horizon?

USAF Major Tyson Sorci (left) presenting former Elk Grove Mayor Gary Davis with an M-4 rifle. | 
Over the last week, speculation on the 2020 mayoral race has run rampant in Elk Grove political circles. That speculation has centered on the possible return to politics of Gary Davis, the former and first directly elected Mayor of Elk Grove.  

Davis is reportedly preparing to announce he will challenge his former political ally Steve Ly for Elk Grove mayor. 

Should Davis return to electoral politics, it would be a reversal from his last-minute decision to leave office in 2016. After serving consecutive two-year terms starting in 2012 as the city's first directly elected mayor, Davis dropped out of the 2016 election for still murky reasons.

After departing the race, Davis, who was already being challenged by then Elk Grove Planning Commissioner Kevin Spease, supported and encouraged then Elk Grove Vice Mayor Steve Ly to enter the race. With Davis' support and superior campaign financing and organization, Ly defeated Spease and Tracie Stafford.

Interestingly, when Ly ran for reelection in 2018, Davis and his wife Heather Davis, an elected board member of the Sacramento County Board of Education, lent their apparent support in a widely-distributed mailer. Then, in the last two weeks of the campaign, Davis shifted alliances, and in a robocall sponsored by Joshua Wood and the Sacramento-based Region Business advocacy group and endorsed Elk Grove Councilmember Darren Suen who was challenging Ly.

Even though Davis abandoned Ly, who was also subjected to negative mailers and an online advertising campaign by an independent expenditure committee who tacitly supported Suen, Ly pushed backed Suen's challenge and won his second term. Suen also had the support of his three council colleagues; Steve Detrick, Pat Hume, and Stephanie Nguyen.

Shape-Shifting alliances

While Davis' shift of support in 2018 from Ly to Suen caught many people by surprise, longtime Elk Grove political observers had seen this pattern for at least the last 12 years. The first time this happened was in 2008, two years after his 2006 defeat of former Elk Grove City Councilmember Dan Briggs.

One of the people he shifted on was a paid executive on Davis' successful 2006 campaign, Democratic political consultant Katherine Maestas. Two years later, Maestas challenged former Republican Elk Grove City Councilmember Sophia Scherman.

Davis, who is nominally a Democrat, was expected to endorse his former campaign consultant as shot in the arm to her candidacy. Instead, Davis endorsed Scherman.

Following his election as the city's first directly elected mayor in 2012, Davis vacated his District 4 seat. To fill the vacancy, the city council could make an appointment or hold a special election.

The choice of Davis and then City Councilmember Jim Cooper was Nancy Chaires, who at the time was on the Elk Grove Planning Commission. The city council deadlocked with Councilmembers Steve Detrick and Pat Hume blocking Chaires.

After the deadlock, Democrat Cooper, who was pushing for Chaires, also a Democrat, was comfortable with letting voters decide in a special election. Davis, fearing the cost of the special election would be hung around his neck, succumbed to pressure by Detrick and Hume, and agreed to appoint former Elk Grove Unified School District Superintendent and Republican Robert Trigg to be a placeholder for the two-year balance of the District 4 term.

Two years later in 2016 Davis' fellow Democratic party member Maureen Craft challenged Detrick for the District 3 seat. Instead of assisting Craft, Davis endorsed Republican Detrick.

Davis' charter school ties

Although Davis has been a member of the Democratic party since being elected in 2006, his status with party regulars has been tenuous. Aside from his refusal to endorse fellow Democrats, Davis' affiliation with charter schools has been negatively viewed by a majority of party regulars.

Davis is employed by the California Charter School Association and before that EdVoice. Although there is some support for charter schools within the Democratic Party, the charter school organization has portrayed as puppets for right-leaning foundations like the Walton Family (Walmart) Foundation as a toll against power teacher unions who are a critical Democratic Party constituency.   

During his time as Mayor, Davis unsuccessfully tried to establish charter schools in Elk Grove with funding from the Elk Grove Unified District. Interestingly, during one of his failed attempts with the EGUSD, one of the trustees was Chaires, who was appointed then elected to the board.

Currently, as of December 31, 2019, Davis has $42.633 in his campaign fund, which was left open following his mysterious 2016 exit. Davis is said to be seeking contributions from the same real estate and construction interests who funded his campaigns in the past, and it is thought the various charter school organization and their supporters will offer support in his challenge to Ly.

All candidates and City Councilmembers have until the end of this month to report campaign contributions to the Elk Grove City Clerk for the six months ending June 30.

New alliances?

Given Davis' ever-shifting alliances, could he organize a slate to oppose Ly? Although Ly has not formally formed a slate, he recently endorsed Maureen Craft, who is running for the District 3 seat and is expected to support Ali Moua, who is challenging City Councilmember Darren Suen in District 1.

For Davis, the natural affiliations of his slate would be Suen, who, although a Democrat, is like similarly unfavorably viewed by party regulars. The addition of Republican Spease on the Davis slate, who entered the 2016 Elk Grove mayoral race intent on challenging Davis, could, in their view, give the appearance of unity in politically fractured times.

Regarding Davis' talking points, it is not hard to imagine he will argue Elk Grove under his leadership was headed in a better direction, and with the help of Suen and Spease, he will correct course. More specifically, he could appropriate a former campaign slogan and argue the slate will get Elk Grove back on track. 

The filing deadline for candidates is August 7. The filing could be extended to Agust 12 if no incumbents file for reelection by August 7.   

Copyright by Elk Grove News © 2020. All right reserved.

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Eye on Elk Grove said...

One important note: Gary Davis not only said he would "assist" Maureen Craft, but he said he would do anything he could to help her beat Steve Detrick. That is, until the last minute Detrick mailer with Davis' "fake smile" stating, "I trust Steve Detrick."

(What does that tell you when a politician has to Photoshop his/her own smile with someone else's teeth?") The 1,000 word analogy. . . .take a look:


Heed Gary Davis history Kevin Spease and Darren Suen if you’ve been approached and are considering a possible slate. If Davis had any chance of beating Steve Ly by dumping the two of you at the last minute, he would do it in a heartbeat and never look back!

Also, if Davis can subvert any contributions coming your way into his own campaign account, you can bet he will!

And while we are at it, what will Elk Grove City Council members Pat Hume and Stephanie Nguyen do here? Hume has never been a “Davis buddy buddy” (see me picking my fingernails when Davis is talking). The small world continues in that Heather Davis ran against Nguyen for Sacramento County Board of Education and it wasn’t pretty when Gary Davis went after Nguyen.

However, unlike EGN supporters, most of whom have long institutional memories, and will counter any city council revisionism. But what about Hume's and Nguyen's memories when it comes to Gary Davis? We have, indeed, come to learn with this bunch on the Elk Grove City Council, they can’t even remember yesterday. Maybe it is the Scotch!

Referencing: “Mr. Mom.”
(Michael Keaton) "Wanna beer?"
(Martin Mull) "It's 7 o'clock in the morning."
(Michael Keaton) "Scotch?"

Capt. Benjamin Willard said...

Like many voters in Elk Grove, when Mr. Davis ran in 2006, I voted for him and Mr. Hume after suffering through Briggs exhaustion. To say Mr. Davis has been a disappointment as an elected official is an understatement.

As for an alliance between Mr. Davis and Mr.’s Spease and Suen, given his proclivity to support sure bets, it would not be surprising as Eye on Elk Grove pointed out in their above comment, to see him recruit his own candidates. Like Mr. Trump, who doesn’t like losers like the late Senator John McCain, Davis doesn’t want to be associated with “losers” like Mr. Suen and Mr. Spease, both respectable men, but had the misfortune of being soundly defeated by Mr. Ly.

Perhaps Mr. Davis could recruit a District 1 candidate like Ms. Bobbie Singh-Allen, who has voraciously criticized Mr. Ly in recent days following his recent foul-up related to Black Lives Matter. Both Mr. Davis and Ms. Singh-Allen are, if nothing else, opportunistic political creatures who will jump on the current bandwagon, and, alternatively, will sniff out weaknesses like a jackal stalking prey.

Ms. Singh-Allen could offer a gender balance to his slate, and that would be significant as best as I can recall, Mr. Davis has never supported female challenger candidates. It’s all about winning at any cost for Mr. Davis, and these two men are undoubtedly losing bets in his assessment.

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Atticus Finch said...

What has Davis ever done to help improve the quality of life for this city? Stay Gone Mr. Davis. Elk Grove doesn't need you, nor want you. Be like Kanye West and just blow smoke.

Steve L said...

I'm with Atticus.

Gary Davis had his opportunity here in the Grove. At one point, he was trusted and appreciated by many. After a few years, his true nature reared its ugly head and exposed him for being what he always was, a pawn that could be bought off by the smallest of bidders. He didn't care about our city; he cared about promoting himself and the benefits that he could take advantage of as mayor.

He stepped away voluntarily years ago. The city is better off without him. He misses the spotlight, but we are all better off without him selling his endorsement to any bidder as an elected official of our city.

Elk Grove can do better than re-incarnating this slug as our mayor.

Randy Bekker said...

I am not a fan of Gary Davis for reasons I don’t need to bore people with however after this last week an the news of Mayor Steve Ly oppressing women, calling on one of the Hmong Clans, a fellow journalist being threatened. Information about his bullying of a fellow school board colleague. The issue of his personal assistant that harassed citizens exercising their constitutional rights. It makes you wonder if Gary might be a better choice. Kinda like Trump an Biden choosing the best of the worst. Sad because Elk Grove deserves better don’t you think?

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