Count Barbara Keegan among those most flabbergasted with her landslide victory last week for a seat on the Santa Clara Valley Water District board. But if it were up to the opinion editor at our local daily, Keegan would have pulled out of the race months ago. That would have allowed David Ginsborg, deputy to the county’s tax assessor, to easily claim retiring Joe Judge’s board seat. Barbara Marshman, the Mercury News’ editorial writer and decider of all things good and natural, emailed Keegan in early August to try and cajole her into dropping out of the race. The message not only came of as threatening but also included a quid pro quo. “If you plan to drop out, I will be thrilled to write an editorial of lavish praise for both you and Scott (who also would have been terrific on the board, I’ve known him for 20 years) for putting the best interests of the district first,” Marshman wrote, referring to Scott Knies, the San Jose Downtown Association’s executive director, who bowed out of the race at the end of July. Keegan says she couldn’t understand why Marshman—who didn’t respond to requests for comment—was hellbent on pressing a qualified female candidate to bow out, let alone why she would be so foolhardy to put such an offer in writing. Marshman admits earlier in her email to Keegan that, “While I only know you by reputation, I don’t doubt that you’d be a fine water board member. But I’m writing an editorial asking you to pull out of the race, so that there’s a chance of unseating Joe Judge. With three names on the ballot, Joe will win, once Zoe and the rest of the crowd amp up the campaign. David Ginsborg has I think a good chance of winning, but not if there’s a third name there.” As it turned out, Judge dropped out of the race a week after the email, his friend and U.S. Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren stayed out of the race and Keegan destroyed Ginsborg, beating him by 24 percentage points. If someone like Cindy Chavez, CEO of the South Bay Labor Council, had tried to orchestrate such a scheme, the Merc would have publicly eviscerated her. Keegan says Chavez told her as much. But in this Bay Area media crock pot, where only a handful of independent newspapers survive, the temptation to call shots with impunity must have been too irresistible for Marshman. Now eat your vegetables and drink lots of water.