Poll shows Mayor Kevin Johnson not invincible

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Nothing brightens up this newsroom like a good local political poll, and a juicy one came over the transom this week.

Labor groups are touting a survey that shows Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson is more vulnerable than you might think in the upcoming June primary—if the right candidate jumps in.

When asked “if the election were held today,” would they vote to re-elect Johnson, 46 percent of likely voters said no, while 41 percent said yes.

The actual poll question breaks it down further. Seventeen percent of likely voters said they would definitely re-elect the mayor, and 24 percent said they would probably vote for Johnson.

But another 24 percent said they would probably vote against Johnson while 22 percent said they would definitely vote for someone else; 13 percent were undecided.

Not surprisingly, those numbers got much worse for Johnson when the pollster “pushed” respondents and read critical statements about the mayor, such as, “Johnson is too focused on downtown nightlife and helping the Kings,” and “when he doesn’t get his way he wants to change the rules.”

At that point, 55 percent of respondents said they would vote for someone else, while just 35 percent said they support Johnson’s re-election. Eleven percent remained undecided.

The poll was conducted by EMC Research—400 likely June voters were surveyed by telephone. It shows that mayor enjoys very high name recognition and a decent approval rating. Eighteen percent of likely voters felt strongly favorable toward the mayor, 35 percent were somewhat favorable, and 40 percent were split between the somewhat and strongly unfavorable categories.

The poll was paid for by the Sacramento Sierra Building & Construction Trades Council.

Labor and Democratic activists were buzzing about the new numbers because they believe the mayor’s support isn’t as strong as previously thought. But they still don’t have a strong challenger in the race. So far, only bounty hunter and perennial candidate Leonard Padilla has jumped in to oppose Johnson. But many observers say Padilla won’t have the money or popular support to pose a real threat to the mayor.

Find more information about the poll here. (Cosmo Garvin)

The task-force investigation into the pepper-spray debacle at UC Davis this fall is getting resistance from uncooperative campus police.

Cruz Reynoso, the former California Supreme Court justice tapped to head up the task force, wrote a letter to UC president Mark Yudof earlier this month, explaining that his full report would be delayed until the end of February, because it’s been hard to get the union that represents campus cops—Federated University Police Officers Association—to make its members available to be interviewed by investigators.

“We can’t interview the police unless they agree to talk to us,” Reynoso told SN&R.

No, you can’t. But we do have one idea for something that could get them to comply. (C.G.)