Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg is looking to shore up donor support for Assemblywoman Cathleen Galgiani's bid for Senate, circulating an internal poll showing the Livingston Democrat holding a double-digit lead in the contested 5th Senate District.
The race between Galgiani, Republican Assemblyman Bill Berryhill and San Joaquin Supervisor Leroy Ornella, also a Republican, is expected to be one of the year's top state legislative contests. A slight voter registration edge for Democrats in the San Joaquin County district makes it one of three seats Senate Democrats are targeting as they try to get to the two-thirds mark in the upper house.
The polling memo, which was sent to members of the capital's lobbying community by Steinberg's political director, shows Galgiani leading both Republican rivals, with a strong edge among decline-to-state voters.
Pollster Paul Goodwin called the findings of the telephone survey "quite encouraging" for Galgiani in the memo.
"She is almost certain to finish first or second in the June primary, and has a wide lead over her Republican opponents looking ahead to November," the memo reads.
Berryhill's political consultant dismissed the results, saying other polls have painted a much different, closer picture of the race. Republicans say their efforts in the district have caused Democrats' roughly four-point registration edge to drop to about 2 percentage points, with numbers they say have historically resulted in GOP wins.
"If Steinberg's so panicked that he's walking false polls around, you know that Bill Berryhill is going to beat Galgiani," Berryhill consultant Duane Dichiara said.
PHOTO CREDIT: Cathleen Galgiani, D-Stockton, casts her vote on the budget cuts portion of the Democratic budget plan during the Assembly floor session, Tuesday Dec. 16, 2008.
Editor's note: This post was updated at 5:05 p.m. to correct the town of Galgiani's residence. She is from Livingston, not Livermore.