California’s next governor won’t take office for more than three years. Still, Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom has already declared his candidacy and at least four others (John Chiang, Tom Steyer, Antonio Villaraigosa and Steve Westly) are rumored to be considering runs. If you are asked to donate, two things to keep in mind:
- DON’T get distracted by candidate-sponsored ballot initiatives. Candidates for statewide office in California sometimes engage in pre-election strategies to boost name recognition and/or to appeal to certain special interests or voting blocs. Before he ran for governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger sponsored a statewide ballot initiative for after-school programs. More recently, Gavin Newsom explored a marijuana legalization measure before settling on a gun safety initiative. In general, candidate-sponsored initiatives are branding efforts that don’t overlap significantly with a governor’s principal activities. That’s why insiders focus on the following.
- DO pay attention to the identity of special interests that endorse, assist and/or contribute to the candidate. Over a four-year term, the next governor will sign budgets putting ~$1 trillion in the pockets of special interests, veto or approve ~4000 bills affecting special interests, and appoint hundreds of officials who regulate special interests. For example, over the next four years California will shower nearly $400 billion on pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, nurses, doctors and other special healthcare interests and also pass laws and regulations affecting those interests. You should know if the candidate is endorsed, assisted or financed by such special interests.
Candidates try to hide unflattering information but resources are available to tell you everything you need to know. At Govern For California, we know everything of relevance before we back a candidate. Before you contribute, learn how the state’s special interests feel about the candidate.