Show ‘Em the Money

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

Where have all the Republican donors gone?

The Republican Party is in the doldrums in California. Like the Oakland Raiders, the Republicans need one win to give them confidence. A win in a statewide race would not turn political fortunes around immediately but it would be a stepping stone.

Pundits and academics advise it would be good for state governance if the Republican Party would become more competitive statewide.

Those same political observers agree that this year’s Republican statewide office candidates are an attractive lot and they give Controller candidate Ashley Swearengin and Secretary of State candidate Pete Peterson shots at winning their races, acknowledging that it won’t be easy.

Then we get a summary of the current fundraising positions of the candidates in the two aforementioned races from Jim Miller of the Sacramento Bee and we see the Democratic candidates in these races are swamping their opponents in the all important money category.

As Miller reports, Democratic Secretary of State candidate Alex Padilla has eight times the money on hand that Peterson has according to the latest filings. Democratic Controller candidate Betty Yee has more than twice what Swearengin has in the bank.

If the Republicans want to show progress in the state’s electoral politics they have to give support to statewide candidates who have a chance of winning.

True, donors don’t view the Controller and Secretary of State offices as policy shops that set direction for the state. But they are constitutional offices that have certain powers and are high profile enough to influence the direction of the state.

Moreover, if Republican donors step up and help make their candidates competitive and they win, the Republican reputation is polished  — something that is sorely needed as California moves toward the standing of a one party state.

Normally, donors can be counted to get involved in the races that hold the greatest power and influence in state government, governor and attorney general. However, conventional wisdom supported by polling indicate incumbents Jerry Brown and Kamala Harris are cruising toward re-election.

Usual Republican donors seem to accept that supposition so they have not thrown big money behind the incumbents’ opponents. In fact, some usual Republican donors will make a safe bet and support the incumbents.

So one would think that the money that would normally go toward those top end office races might find its way to the other Republican constitutional candidates in hopes of reviving the party and building a bench for future tries at the governorship, the attorney general’s office or U.S. Senate seats.

But that money is not forthcoming. Is there an Independent Expenditure campaign out there for one or both of these candidates? Perhaps, but I am not aware.

If the Republican statewide candidates in the competitive contests lose a close race, let’s not hear about lost opportunity from the party donors who didn’t show up.

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