Dodson Makes Runoff Against Schaefer!

David Dodson’s penurious campaign for the District 4 seat on the Board of Equalization (the sole competitive race for the Board) has cleared its biggest hurdle so far, landing him the second spot in the Top 2 primary against the scandal-ridden incumbent, Mike Schaefer. Schaefer starts the race with at 36% to 15% lead over Dodson, but there is good reason to think that (1) that is somewhat of an illusion and (2) that Dodson’s campaign will soon be less penurious. (That’s such a piquant word. Look it up if you don’t know it. Same for “piquant.”)

Much depends on decisions to be made by the California Democratic Party regarding their not-so-well-informed primary endorsement of Schaefer. As we start to trundle out the fuller contents of our Schaefer file, I hope that the CDP will wisely take into account the contents of these stories — rather than allow me to hang their endorsement around their collective neck in light of Schaefer’s history — but they will do what they wish, as always.

We’re going to be splitting off the latter portion of this post that has represented only the first nibbles of the appetizer of our Schaefer files. There’s lots more — and that doesn’t even count what these other campaigns might have found!

Anyway, congratulations go out to David and Penny! They have certainly earned this cage match against Schaefer.

[Ed. Note: Was “Dodson Watch Begins.”) A panel of experts has informed me that I am being silly
by keeping this going, because Dodson has obviously won the second spot in the primary.]

Original Introduction

Indulge us here, just a little bit, if you please. For over four years now, we’ve been hoping for good things for wonky-but-personable property tax policy expert David Dodson in the Board of Equalization District 4 race. This has been a somewhat lonely cause– except for David, his wife Penny Dodson, and a once relatively small (but now growing) group of friends and admirers — and something very strange seems to be happening. It now looks like he may — despite the not-that-benign neglect of the Democratic Party leadership who stuck with their incumbent no matter what — make the Top Two runoff against incumbent Mike Schaefer. And then we’re in for five months of fun!

Note That This is Two Posts in One!

Reading from the top, you’ll get the latest vote totals (most recent first) regarding Dodson’s attempt to fend off Republican Denis Bilodeau in the race for the second spot against Schaefer in the fall runoff.

Then, if you jump down after the first Election Night post of totals — it’s followed by a line or orange tildes (“~~~~~“) you’ll find some analysis of the race and some background on the candidates — primarily on Schaefer.

Watching the Numbers Arrive

You need to go to the California Secretary of State’s website to find the current score in BOE District 4, and we’re going to start tracking it just in case this chapter of the saga has a happy ending.

June 14 (Elect. Day +7) Dodson Lead Hikes (by 3,596) to 11,151 (w/o SD)

San Diego has failed to check in again — but the Associated Non-Press (a group non-journalists in politics who are needling me about not calling the race) has called the election for David Dodson after today’s tranche of votes increased his districtwide lead over Denis Bilodeau by 47.6% of its previous total 11,151. As I said, we’re into “procrastinators’ ballots” territory by now, and while there’s still more to count it’s no longer in doubt, and that lead will probably rise. The races between Matt Harper and Erik Peterson for fourth place and between Randy Economy for John Kelly for sixth place will not receive further coverage because literally no one cares. But congratulations to all of the challengers, and yes it turns out that five Republicans running against two Democrats are likely to get into each others way. (Usually this problem works in the opposite direction.)

David Dodson
(Party Preference: DEM)
73,35013.8%225,74414.9%
Mike Schaefer
(Party Preference: DEM)
179,00533.8%546,34736.1%
Denis R. Bilodeau
(Party Preference: REP)
65,18312.3%214,59314.2%
Randell R. Economy
(Party Preference: REP)
32,6836.2%99,9876.6%
Matthew Harper
(Party Preference: REP)
62,07411.7%165,42710.9%
John F. Kelly
(Party Preference: REP)
30,9535.8%97,4056.4%
Erik Peterson
(Party Preference: REP)
86,76716.4%164,34810.9%

June 13 (Elect. Day +6) SD Reports, Dodson Lead Falls (by 249) to 7,555

David Dodson
(Party Preference: DEM)
88,07515.5%209,30314.9%
Mike Schaefer
(Party Preference: DEM)
227,55340.1%510,44836.4%
Denis R. Bilodeau
(Party Preference: REP)
107,51518.9%201,74814.4%
Randell R. Economy
(Party Preference: REP)
30,5585.4%92,0686.6%
Matthew Harper
(Party Preference: REP)
50,3918.9%151,02210.8%
John F. Kelly
(Party Preference: REP)
29,8245.3%89,5676.4%
Erik Peterson
(Party Preference: REP)
33,8786.0%149,15810.6%

June 11 (Elect. Day +4) Dodson Lead Up* from 3,850 to 7,804 (pre-SD #s)

San Diego — Mike Schaefer’s home county and Denis Bilodeau’s strongest one relative to David Dodson — has now not reported results for two days in a row, which is really messed up. So these results may not reflect the true present state of the race. So let’s begin with the question, which I’ve copied over from the more general discussion:

Why is San Diego Holding Back Results?

Only a third of the counties have done it — but none as large!

  • Alpine (June 7): 40 — 38 are VBM
  • Glenn (June 9): 1,705 — 1,698 are VBM
  • Lake (June 8): 8,541 — 7,523 are VBM
  • Mariposa (June 9): 518 — 484 are VBM
  • Mendocino (June 7): 17,949 — 17,602 are VBM
  • Merced (June 7): 12,302 — 11,902 are VBM
  • Modoc (June 8): 372 — 354 are VBM
  • Mono (June 7): 63 — 31 are VBM
  • Monterey (June 8): 29,406 — 1,758 are VBM
  • Plumas (June 7): 1,584 — 1,561 are VBM
  • San Diego (June 9): 195,000 — 193,900 are VBM
  • San Joaquin (June 9): 88,700 — 88,000 are VBM
  • San Mateo (June 9): 78,120 — 77,000 are VBM
  • Santa Barbara (June 7): 24,334 — 23,631 are VBM
  • Santa Cruz (June 8): 37,650 — 37,000 are VBM
  • Stanislaus (June 9): 27,748 — 27,200 are VBM
  • Tehama (June 9): 1,596 — 1,427 are VBM
  • Ventura (June 9): 57,565 — 55,000 are VBM
  • Yolo (June 8): 22,209 — 21,215 are VBM

These counties have still not reported since before June 10 (and this has been updated on June 12), with the total ballots remaining for each:

I do not blame Alpine, Mono, Modoc, or Mariposa for being late. They are small counties with what I expect is limited staff, VBMs will continue to come in through either June 14 or June 21, as I recall — it used to be less, but then Covid hit and Louis DeJoy screwed up the Post Office — and it makes sense to bring in the staff later who can deal with all of the absentee ballots as once. Even counties with VBMs in the low four figures can make a case for doing so — although concerns for ballot security (not their being changed, but their being lost) increase both with time and with larger numbers. By the time a county gets into five figures I really start to wonder what they hell they’re thinking. But San Diego is alone among counties that haven’t reported by since before last Thursday, with a backlog in the five figures. Orange and Alameda both have almost as much out — but both reported a count on Thursday. Los Angeles has twice as much out — but they reported a count on Saturday. If you have that much of a backlog, you’re simply not going to run out of VBM ballots to count this far ahead of the VBM ballot arrival deadline.

Now is the actual reason that I’m irked because it keeps me from tracking the race between David Dodson and Denis Bilodeau to make the Top 2 runoff in BOE District 4? Possibly. Make that Probably. OK, make that Very Likely. Sigh. OK, YES, YES IT IS! But the criticism is still valid!

Anyway, we can calculate an estimate of what would happen if all of San Diego’s votes went exactly as the previous votes have gone and if no other county (all four of which have leaned towards Dodson) reported any other vote, which will give us the maximum bound that Bilodeau could reach. With 195,000 ballots out, and with Bilodeau having a 3.8% advantage (17,321-vote lead) over Dodson in San Diego right now he could conceivably add 7,400 to his margin over Dodson in the county virtually tying up the race. The bad news for Bilodeau is that by the same token Orange County would be expected to add 2,713 votes to Dodson’s margin, Riverside would add 4,484, San Bernardino 2,210, and Imperial 1,760. That’s a total protected gain of 11,167 for Dodson outside of San Diego. So IF the trend in future votes matched that of the ones counted so far in all counties, Dodson increases his lead over Bilodeau by 3,767. But, of course, things may not be the same — in fact, late absentee ballots and those conditional voter registrations and provisional ballots will likely veer more Democratic, and Republican leading paper ballots just aren’t that common.)

CandidateOC VotesOC %District VotesDistrict %
David Dodson
(Party Preference: DEM)
58,22713.7%175,46214.8%
Mike Schaefer
(Party Preference: DEM)
143,51133.8%432,03636.5%
Denis R. Bilodeau
(Party Preference: REP)
52,02912.2%167,78914.2%
Randell R. Economy
(Party Preference: REP)
26,1606.2%77,2356.5%
Matthew Harper
(Party Preference: REP)
49,53611.7%124,69010.5%
John F. Kelly
(Party Preference: REP)
24,8605.8%76,6966.5%
Erik Peterson
(Party Preference: REP)
70,86916.7%130,55311.0%

June 10 (Elect. Day +3) Dodson Lead Up* from 3,850 to 7,804 (pre-SD #s)

*43 of California’s 58 counties reported on Friday, but San Diego was not among them, so this could change.

CandidateVotesPercent
 David Dodson
(Party Preference: DEM)
167,15814.9%
 Mike Schaefer
(Party Preference: DEM)
414,63137.0%
 Denis R. Bilodeau
(Party Preference: REP)
159,35414.2%
 Randell R. Economy
(Party Preference: REP)
72,1606.4%
 Matthew Harper
(Party Preference: REP)
72,16010.3%
 John F. Kelly
(Party Preference: REP)
72,2016.4%
 Erik Peterson
(Party Preference: REP)
119,80710.7%

June 9 (Election Day +2)

CandidateVotes
David Dodson
(Party Preference: DEM)
153,76414.9%
Mike Schaefer
(Party Preference: DEM)
384,89137.2%
Denis R. Bilodeau
(Party Preference: REP)
149,91414.5%
Randell R. Economy
(Party Preference: REP)
65,3636.3%
Matthew Harper
(Party Preference: REP)
104,47210.1%
John F. Kelly
(Party Preference: REP)
66,1106.4%
Erik Peterson
(Party Preference: REP)
109,10410.6%

Yesterday, Bilodeau trailed Dodson by 5,208 votes. Today, he trails by 3,850 votes — a net improvement of 1,358. That could be a very good sign, depending on how many of which votes got counted in which counties. The initial data on each county is at the end of the June 8 (1st day post-election) entry. Let’s update it here, just with respect to these two.

Orange: Counted another 1%, is now 20%. Dodson still leads Bilodeau 13.4% to 12.1%, margin unchanged.

Riverside: Counted another 2%, is now 17%. Dodson leads Bilodeau 16.5% to 9.3%, margin increased by 1.2% (To be honest, given the overall result, I’m wondering if I made a typo yesterday and the real increase is only 0.2%).

San Bernardino: Counted another 1%, is now 12%. Dodson leads Bilodeau 14.9% to 11.2%.

San Diego: Counted another 3%, is now 24%. Bilodeau leads Dodson 19.0% to 15.2%. margin unchanged.

Imperial: Counted another 2%, is now 8%. Dodson leads Bilodeau 20.6% to 5.3%. margin increased by 0.5%.

So what this looks like is that a lot more votes came in from San Diego, the only county where Bilodeau leads, than elsewhere, and that bumped up his numbers. While Dodson leads in the other four counties, it looks like half of the votes may have come from San Diego. That trend won’t continue long. The bigger question is the partisan lean of the counties which communities have had their votes processed, and which haven’t.

June 8 (the day after polls closed):

David Dodson
(Party Preference: DEM)
140,82014.8%
Mike Schaefer [INCUMBENT]
(Party Preference: DEM)
352,53637.1%
Denis R. Bilodeau
(Party Preference: REP)
135,61214.3%
Randell R. Economy
(Party Preference: REP)
60,6416.4%
Matthew Harper
(Party Preference: REP)
96,76910.2%
John F. Kelly
(Party Preference: REP)
61,8966.5%
Erik Peterson
(Party Preference: REP)
101,95510.7%

As the incumbent and one of only two Democrats, Schaefer was always going to get the highest vote total in the primary, and 37.1% — before he’s hardly had any serious examination of his history (except for the story excerpted below) — is not that great. But the interesting question at this point is whether Dodson, in second place, can maintain his current half-percept, 5,208-vote lead over Denis Bilodeau. Here how Dodson’s stacks up to Bilodeau and other challengers, where they matter) in the five Southern California that comprise District 4.

Orange: With 19% turnout counted, Dodson leads Bilodeau 13.4% to 12.1%, with Erik Peterson being the strongest challenger at 16.7%, Matt Harper at 11.4%, and John F. Kelly (whom Schaefer edged out for the 2018 runoff) and Randy Economy both at 6.1%.

Riverside: With 15% turnout counted, Dodson leads Bilodeau 16.4% to 9.4%, with Harper at 10.8%, Peterson at 9.8%, Kelly at 9.1%, and Economy at 8.5%.

San Bernardino: With 11% turnout counted, Dodson leads Bilodeau 14.8% to 11.2%, with Harper at 12.5%, Peterson at 11.7%, Economy at 8.0% and Kelly at 6.3%.

San Diego: Adds 3% 21% turnout counted, Bilodeau leads Dodson 18.9% to 15.1%, with Harper at 8.5%, Peterson at 6.2%, Kelly at 5.5% and Economy at 5.4%.

Imperial: With 6% turnout counted, Dodson leads Bilodeau 20.2% to 5.4%, with Kelly at 14.1%, Harper at 9.1%, Peterson at 7.9%, and Randy Economy at 3.2%.

Obviously, we can’t warrant that past results guarantee future performance. Early votes counted may tend to differ in kind from later ones (although that trend usually favors the Democrats); the precincts already counted may differ in kind from those not yet counted, etc. And we don’t know what the ultimate turnout in each county will be! So we’ll keep note of at least the districtwide figures here daily, and will try to note any major discrepancies from the county trends above.

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Bonus 6/8: A “Traditional Media” Story about Mike Schaefer

What appears below is not my headline. The story was held back until it was most newsworthy: that is, until the California Democratic Party had already stepped into the dog shit. (Personally, I think that it would be fairer give them fair warning beforehand like, I did.) It is still paywall-protected by San Francisco Examiner; this partial version appeared in the center-right California Political Review, and elsewhere. The California Democratic Party certainly got what it asked for: mindless obedience from its thralls, and once again that will have come at a cost.

Meanwhile, I’m not done with this story. A careful reader of my explanation asked a question that made me wonder if I had been tricked on the “racist meme” thing. I checked my notes — and I think that maybe I was. More will be coming on that soon enough.

Especially if Dodson wins — but frankly either way — it’s not too late for CDP to rescind the endorsement and revert to a No Endorsement (or perhaps reversing the endorsement) in the Dem-on-Dem runoff, if Dodson holds onto his current position. My guess is that they won’t do so unless lots of people contact them and embarrass them about this. If Schaefer does turn out to be the sole Dem in the runoff, Republicans (whom I’m assured already know about everything I am saying here) will hold back their heaviest fire until it matters most: a few weeks before Labor Day and then an onslaught right afterwards, trying to tie Schaefer to the entire party. Dems will have to either spend on the seat or lose it. Schaefer has a better chance against Dodson than against any Republican (because Dodson, at least so far, has had very little money to spend. But the media loves a story where the Dems look bad, so he may not have as good of a chance as he thinks. Here’s a story that appeared three months ago today, that I had frankly forgotten about — and it’s worth your reading while we wait for the final primary results.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

He’s Been Convicted, Disbarred And Called A Slumlord. Now He’s Endorsed By The California Democratic Party

March 8, 2022 By Michael Cabanatuan 1 Comment

An 84-year-old San Diego man with an ignominious past won the endorsement of the state Democratic Party over the weekend, despite a history that includes spousal abuse, legal sanctions for being a slumlord and a restraining order keeping him away from an actor on a beloved TV sitcom.

Why is this man smiling?

Michael “Mike” Schaefer, who calls himself “The Equalizer,” is running for re-election to the state Board of Equalization, a post he first won in 2018. Schaefer represents five Southern California counties — San Diego, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Imperial. The largely unknown board regulates and administers property taxes, alcoholic beverage taxes and taxes on insurers.

The oldest Californian to hold a state constitutional office, Schaefer has a lengthy political past — much of it unsuccessful. An attorney by training, Schaefer has also run afoul of the law multiple times, and has been disbarred in California and Nevada.

The California Democratic Party did not weigh in on the race in 2018, when Schaefer faced Republican Joel Anderson, who was fresh off his own scandal in which he was reprimanded by state Senate leaders for confronting a Capitol lobbyist and threatening to “bitch slap” her. Anderson went on to win a seat on the San Diego County Board of Supervisors in 2020.

But during its convention held over the weekend, the Democratic Party voted to support Schaefer in his re-election bid.

Click here to read the full article at the SF Chronicle

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Most of that Chronicle article is paywalled, so I’ll summarize some of the rest that I found on a site that I hated to visit:

  • In 1970, while he served on the San Diego City Council, he was accused in a 1970 bribery scandal involving Yellow Cab. (He was acquitted, though I don’t know the details)
  • In 1986, a jury awarded damages of $1.83 million to former tenants who claimed that Schaefer rented them Los Angeles apartments that were overrun with rats, cockroaches, sewage and street gangs (Source: Los Angeles Times)
  • In 1993, he was jailed after a misdemeanor conviction for spousal abuse. (Source: San Diego Union-Tribune)
  • In 2013, a Nevada court granted a restraining order to actor/comedian Brad Garrett (perhaps best know for playing the brother of Ray Romano’s title character in “Everybody Loves Raymond,” requiring Schaefer not to come within 100 feet of him, after Schaefer allegedly stalked Garrett after a dispute involving a complimentary ticket to a Las Vegas show.

There’s more, but there’s no reason to put it all out there at once! See you all tomorrow!

Bonus 6/9: ‘S.F. DA candidate [i.e. Mike Schaefer] wanted in Nevada’

We’ll spend a few days on this 1999 story from the San Francisco Gate site. (Bear in mind that a Board of Equalization member gets paid a pretty handsome salary.)

This story covers a lot of different ground, but let’s start with the portion in headline, regarding Schaefer’s then-current run for San Francisco District Attorney.

Schaefer told The Examiner’s editorial board that one of the main planks of his platform is to reduce the number of outstanding warrants in San Francisco.

“I think the society needs to be aware of the criminal elements – that they can’t just be hiding out,” Schaefer said. “I want to know where these people are who have outstanding warrants.”

He was apparently unaware of the irony – that a warrant had been issued for his arrest the same morning in Las Vegas by Justice Court Judge Tony Abbatangelo.

The woman filed for the protective order in April, claiming Schaefer had harassed her in a newsletter that was distributed in the condominium.

Court records sent by Abbatangelo’s clerk show that on June 30, Schaefer had been held in contempt of court and fined $500 for continued harassment of the woman.

Schaefer denies that he ever harassed the woman. Schaefer said he has sued the woman for having him arrested without probable cause, claiming she falsely accused him of following her into a hotel.

The candidate said he knew about the hearing, and sent an attorney in his place Thursday.

“Did he show up?” Schaefer asked. “I assume he did. I haven’t heard anything.”

OK, then! California Democratic Party leadership: how do you like them apples?

If you read the article now, you’ll get ahead of my discussions here — but I presume that that might save you time in the long run!

Bonus 6/10: ‘Slumlording’

Still from the SF Gate story:

According to the San Diego UnionTribune, he spent six days in a Los Angeles jail in 1982 for failing to make court-ordered repairs to one of his buildings.

Later, he was ordered to pay $1.83 million in a lawsuit brought by his Los Angeles-area tenants who alleged that he allowed his building to turn into a slum, the Union-Tribune reported.

Schaefer said he only spent three days in jail, and that he tried to fix the building, only to have some subcontractors fail him.

“That’s just part of being in Los Angeles in the business there,” Schaefer said, blaming the jailing on then-District Attorney Ira Reiner. “He won and I lost, but he was wrong.”

Schaefer said he paid the $1.83million, which put him in bankruptcy from 1986 to 1991.

About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-retired due to disability, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally runs for office against bad people who would otherwise go unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Corrupt party hacks hate him. He's OK with that too. He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)