A number of public unions that are backing Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom for governor want to see their man and a Republican finish one-two in the June primary. In fact, nearly all the state public unions, whether behind Newsom or for another Democrat, would prefer a Democratic candidate to square off against a Republican for governor.

The top-two primary system offers the opportunity for the highest two vote getters in June to run in November.

The obvious reason as well illustrated by Sherry and Doug Jeffe on this page Monday: “California is deeper blue than ever before and, barring a political cataclysm, the chances of any Democrat losing to a Republican in this year’s governor’s race is miniscule.”

But there is another reason big money supporters want to see Newsom or a Democrat facing a Republican not sweat the General Election. The Democratic candidate won’t need as much money in this blue state to take on a Republican challenger leaving cash that might be directed at the governor’s race to be used for other political purposes, whether to back legislative candidates or, in particular, ballot initiatives.

The November ballot is far from set, but there are initiatives circulating that would enjoy a boost of possible union money to support the split roll tax increase to raise property taxes on businesses, the dialysis measure or in opposing the measure to solidify the two-thirds vote requirement.

A recent PPIC poll indicated there is not a groundswell of support for the split roll; but that the two-thirds vote requirements to raise taxes did show strong support. If voters’ minds are to be changed—and there is no certainty that will happen– lots of campaign cash must be invested. The campaign cash becomes more readily available if the governor’s race result is considered a foregone conclusion by the money players.

In addition, there will be a slew of local tax measures on the ballot come November. While the campaign rhetoric for these measures will talk about adding services in local communities, in reality most of the tax increases are pension taxes. Local governments are headed down the road of bankruptcy and/or reduced services because of pension obligations. Many governments will attempt to raise taxes to meet their obligations—whether they tell you that is the reason for the tax increase or not.

You can bet there will be union support for the local tax measures that make the ballot. If the governor’s race is an afterthought more money would be available for these local measures as well.