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Assemblywoman Cheryl Brown and challenger Eloise Reyes (Courtesy photos)

By Jeff Horseman, The Press-Enterprise
Posted: 10/16/16 – 2:55 PM PDT |

The dynamic that pitted Bernie Sanders against Hillary Clinton continues in California’s 47th Assembly District.

Like Clinton, Assemblywoman Cheryl Brown, D-San Bernardino, has the support of the Democratic establishment. In the rogue spirit of Sanders, Brown’s challenger, Grand Terrace Democrat Eloise Reyes, is backed by a more liberal wing that’s angry with moderate Assembly Democrats such as Brown.

Brown and Reyes are on the Nov. 8 ballot in the 47th Assembly District, which includes part of the city of San Bernardino as well as Colton, Grand Terrace, Rialto and Fontana. In the June 7 primary, Brown and Reyes finished first and second, respectively, in a three-candidate field that included Republican Aissa Chanel Sanchez.

The race has captured Sacramento’s attention and money. Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon has been in the district campaigning for Brown, while a coalition of labor and environmental groups launched a “Chevron Cheryl” media blitz to portray the assemblywoman as a puppet of the oil and gas industry.

Liberal anger toward Brown stems partly from a 2015 climate change bill that would have mandated reductions in petroleum use by motor vehicles. Brown and other moderate Democrats said that provision, which was struck from the final bill, would have hurt their constituents, many of whom drive long distances to work.

Brown, an assemblywoman since 2012, is a former San Bernardino County NAACP president and TV talk show host who served on the county and San Bernardino city planning commissions and founded the Black Voice News. She has portrayed herself as an advocate for working class constituents who can’t afford an agenda driven by out-of-district interests who back Reyes.

Reyes, an attorney and daughter of immigrants who grew up in Colton and picked onions and grapes to pay for school, maintains she’s a better representative for district constituents threatened by gun violence and poor air quality. She has said that Brown puts special interests’ and big business needs first.

Thus far, the total amount spent by independent expenditure committees in the race exceeds $3.7 million, more than what’s been spent in any other Assembly or state Senate race, said Rob Pyers, research director with the California Target Book, which studies legislative races.

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