Newsom’s campaign to defeat California recall overtakes enemies
The campaign to recall Governor Gavin Newsom has turned into a money magnet – for Governor Gavin Newsom.
Newsom’s anti-recall campaign made more money in its first five months – $ 54 million – than the $ 50.2 million his 2018 gubernatorial campaign raised over four years.
Most of the money came from six- or seven-figure donations from longtime Democratic backers, including government and labor workers, as well as individuals and interest groups who stand to gain from it. a relationship with the Governor of California. Even the governor’s allies have expressed concern about the amount of money flowing in.
Netflix co-CEO Reed Hastings, a big supporter of charter schools, tops the list of individual donors with $ 3 million. The California Teachers Assn., Which has clashed with charter school advocates for years, donated $ 1.8 million.
The Service Employees International Union and its local affiliates, which together represent about 700,000 members, including government employees, donated a combined $ 5.5 million to Newsom’s anti-recall campaign. Other members of the $ 1 million plus club include associations representing California realtors, home builders and Democratic governors.
Republican political consultant Rob Stutzman said the political calculation to write big checks to Newsom’s anti-recall committee is easy to understand.
Newsom is still the favorite to defeat the attempt to impeach him and be re-elected for a second term in 2022. Even if he is ousted, the odds are slim that a GOP candidate who replaces him will last more than a year in the future. to be able to. in such a strongly democratic state, said Stutzman. Regardless of the outcome of the recall election, California will have a gubernatorial election next year.
“If the guy who’s likely to be governor for the next five years calls you and asks for help, you’re likely to help – and want to help in a way he remembers,” Stutzman said. , a former government adviser. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who took office in 2003 after the state’s only successful recall of a governor.
The recall election provides an opportunity to do just that, thanks to an exception in strict California laws restricting political donations. While donations to individual candidates are capped at $ 32,400 per election, there is no contribution limit for committees devoted solely to promoting or opposing the recall.
Stutzman said the millions Hastings and his wife, Patricia Quillin, paid were a wise policy move, as the Silicon Valley executive backed Newsom’s opponent, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, during from primary to 2018 governor. This donation could allay any lingering animosity Newsom may harbor, he said.
Newsom’s anti-recall committee raised tens of millions of dollars more than the committee pushing for his removal, as well as leading Republicans hoping to replace him. Several of these candidates have alleged that the source of donations to the governor is proof that he is beholden to unions and special interests in Sacramento.
Assembly member Kevin Kiley (R-Rocklin) accused Newsom of shutting down public schools last school year under pressure from the California Teachers Assn. and other teachers’ unions despite advice from federal health officials that it was not necessary.
“Teachers’ unions just funneled Gavin Newsom an additional $ 2.1 million,” Kiley tweeted in late July. “It is not known if this is a bonus for closing last year or a prepayment for the one to come.”
Driven by Newsom’s decision to implement distance education in public schools during the pandemic, Kiley is backing the establishment of a statewide measure on the 2022 poll that would offer a ” school choice ”with a voucher system, allowing parents to use taxpayer money to subsidize tuition at any school, including private schools.
Becky Zoglman, associate executive director of the California Teachers Assn., Said the union had strong disagreements with the Newsom administration at the start of the pandemic over the safety measures needed to protect the health of students, teachers and staff school. But, she said, the association has never doubted Newsom’s commitment to education or the fight against the pandemic.
Newsom and the California legislature have approved record-breaking funding for education and expanded programs critical to the success and well-being of schoolchildren, including preschool and counseling services, she said, and all of these gains would be in jeopardy if Newsom is recalled and one of his Republican opponents takes office.
“Honestly, the whole future of public education is at stake because at least three or four of the [the replacement candidates] talked about dismantling or privatizing public education and allowing vouchers to take money out of public schools in our neighborhood and send it to private schools, ”Zoglman said.
Among the biggest donors to the anti-recall campaign is the 2015 Service Employees International Union, which represents nursing home workers and home caregivers in California and donated $ 2.25 million. The governor has been a strong advocate for expanding access to health care, including long-term care and senior care in California.
“Gavin’s actions speak for themselves,” said Alma Hernández, executive director of SEIU California. “He extended paid sick leave, he protects workers in the workplace. He has worked on healthcare for all Californians, regardless of their immigration status. These are the values we share.
The political arm of the California Correctional Peace Officers Assn. donated $ 1.75 million to the anti-recall effort just weeks after prison guards won $ 5,000 in state bounties for dangerous tasks during the pandemic.
Newsom also raised a total of $ 2.7 million from eight Native American tribes in California, all of which operate casinos, including $ 500,000 each from the Agua Caliente Band of Indians in Palm Springs and the Federated Indians of Granton Rancheria. at Rohnert Park.
The tribes are the main supporters of a 2022 ballot initiative that would allow their casinos to offer sports betting, but in order to do so, they would be required to negotiate gambling deals with the governor.
Even some of the governor’s supporters have expressed concern over the huge amount of money Newsom’s campaign is bringing in.
“The onus will be on Newsom for not delivering what these people want and for doing what’s best for the public,” said Kathryn Phillips, recently retired manager of Sierra Club California.
Phillips said she was wary of the $ 250,000 in contributions from Beverly Hills billionaires Stewart and Lynda Resnick. Their San Joaquin Valley agricultural empire grows water-hungry pistachios and almonds on more than 100,000 acres and takes a keen interest in national and local water policy.
The political arm of the California Building Industry Assn. paid $ 1.5 million in early July as the California Energy Commission considered banning natural gas in new construction, a proposal championed by environmentalists and opposed by home builders. The commission this month spoke out against the ban when it passed the 2022 state building energy efficiency standards.
Environmental groups don’t have the financial means to compete with this, Phillips said. Still, Phillips said she was opposed to the recall, not only because some of the Republicans in the running were also accepting money from developers and other interest groups, but also because she said they supported policies that threaten the environment.
For example, conservative talk show host Larry Elder, who in recent polls leads the pack of gubernatorial contenders, called for increased oil and gas extraction in California, including the controversial use of hydraulic fracturing.
Darry Sragow, a veteran Democratic political strategist and editor of the California Target Book, a guide to state politics and elections, said he didn’t expect attacks on Newsom for accepting millions of contributions in the countryside are a factor in the recall. Voters believe all politicians are doing the same, including those who criticize Newsom, he said.
“I can say with great certainty that ordinary voters think they are all crooks,” Sagrow said. “Do they think Democrats are worse than Republicans or Republicans are worse? No. They just think everyone in the business is on it.