Dems jockey to succeed Brown

The competition to replace Gov. Jerry Brown in 2018 has already heated up, with five prominent California Democrats already campaigning or angling to throw their hat in the ring.

Along with Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who sought to get ahead of the pack by leaping in first, and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, a perennial floated candidate for higher office, state treasurer John Chiang and billionaire activist Tom Steyer faced likely competition from former controller and 2006 gubernatorial candidate Steve Westly.

Money and power

With the exception of Chiang, the crop of candidates and plausible candidates have been distinguished by either their wealth, their ambition, or both. Newsom was famously humbled by Gov. Brown, chafing under the marginal role he has had to play in office. “He’s busily raising money and trying to get as much media attention as his powerless office allows,” Dan Walters observed at the Sacramento Bee. Villaraigosa, Walters added, also sidelined over the past several years with a combination of personal and professional criticism, “is trying to maintain a presence by traveling the state on what he describes as an effort to educate himself about its issues.”

Known across the country, at least by Democrats, Tom Steyer has ranked among the biggest money players in party politics. Steyer “has used his political action committee, NextGen Climate Action, to bring climate issues to the forefront of policy discussions,” the Los Angeles Times noted — an approach that succeeded in landing him a spot at last month’s annual House Democratic Caucus meeting.

During the 2014 election cycle, Steyer dumped about $67 million into NextGen — making him “the country’s biggest individual political donor” that year, according to an analysis by Politico. Steyer has asserted that “he expects to spend even more cash in 2016, focusing on his clean energy-focused super PAC that’s been aggressively organizing across the country, especially in Iowa.” His outsized presence could mobilize voters and bring a more independent flavor to the race. On the other hand, some Democrats uncomfortable with the influence of donor money on politics could be turned off.

A glimpse of reform

Those sorts of voters could be drawn toward John Chiang. (Westly, like Steyer, “has considerable personal wealth” from his time as a venture capitalist, as Walters noted. During president Obama’s visit this month, Westly will host “a fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee […] at his Atherton home,” according to the San Jose Mercury News. “Ticket prices range from $250 to $25,000.”) Rather than racing to shoot out of the gate like Newsom, Chiang has slow-walked his decision. “In August, the state treasurer told the Los Angeles Times he was ‘contemplating’ a run for governor,” the Sacramento Bee recalled. “Three months later, Chiang was ‘very interested,’ according to Capitol Weekly. And on Tuesday, at a California Business Roundtable event, Chiang offered this incremental inch forward: ‘I am strongly leaning towards running.'”

Although Chiang’s statewide profile has remained lower than Newsom’s or Villaraigosa’s, and perhaps even Steyer’s, he did distinguish himself several years ago by appealing to reform-minded Californians in both parties. Late in 2014, Chiang took the lead in “posting online the assets and obligations of public pension programs across the state,” as the Marin Independent Journal noted in an editorial. “The posting of the pension figures — ByTheNumbers.sco.ca.gov — is part of Chiang’s initiative to make more taxpayer information public and accessible.”

Competitive possibilities

At least one early poll has suggested good news for Newsom — and, perhaps, California Republicans. “Newsom, the only declared candidate in the race, captured 30 percent of the support of those surveyed, far outpacing his nearest challenger, Republican San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, who was backed by 20 percent of the respondents, according to a survey of 600 California voters likely to cast ballots in the June 2018 statewide election,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle. “Trailing in third place was former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, a Democrat, who tallied with 8 percent.” Steyer, Chiang and Westly, meanwhile, all placed in single digits behind Ashley Swearengin, the former mayor of Fresno and a buzzed-about Republican, who polled 6 percent.

10 comments

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  1. desmond
    desmond 14 February, 2016, 05:30

    When you see the smile, yes, there is a reason we don t see the hands. Baaa….

    Reply this comment
  2. bob
    bob 14 February, 2016, 13:12

    Chiang is by far the least least harmful of a truly rotten lot. Pretty Boy Newson, Villaraghosty, and Steyer would all be disasters.

    Reply this comment
  3. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 14 February, 2016, 14:59

    Wow, I know Teddy Steals is still reeling from the loss of his go to Prez candidate Fiorina, maybe she will run for gov and make Teddy happy again 🙂

    Reply this comment
  4. Spurwing Plover
    Spurwing Plover 14 February, 2016, 22:26

    Moonbeam and Newsrom Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee i have the Jub Jub Birds cell phone number

    Reply this comment
  5. Ragin'Bill
    Ragin'Bill 15 February, 2016, 06:42

    Newsom can clinch the election if he’d just come out of the closet! He should hold a press conference at a bathhouse in SF with Moonbeam at his side, both wearing towels. Come to think of it, that would be a great time for the lifetime ‘bachelor’ Moonbeam to come out also. It’s about time!

    Reply this comment
    • Rex the Wonder Dog!
      Rex the Wonder Dog! 15 February, 2016, 22:20

      He should hold a press conference at a bathhouse in SF with Moonbeam at his side, both wearing towels.
      Hahahahah….but…..well….OK, you do know Teddy Steals reads all these comments don’t you?? And this comment will make him go ape krazee with envy to the point he will no longer be able to control his neuromuscular system enough to ever comment here again! 🙂

      Reply this comment
  6. desmond
    desmond 15 February, 2016, 10:11

    Probably lock up the democrat vote wearing no towel walking his goat. That stupid smile with the puffed hair..he would be a hit, waving to the masses,while the goat sucks his porky. Diversity, tolerance, bestiality, the democrat platform..what is not to like?
    Brown is a dipsllll. I would like to see Trump elected, just to see Brown go completely crazy. Round up all the illegals in the USA deliver them to Sacramento capital building..”.you want them, here they are, knock yourself out………, dick” Tents everywhere, people pissing in the Governor’s office, Lara campaigning with his pants down to his ankles, De Leon trying to find his Aunt,”I see the Lexus with the state plates, where is she?”

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  7. desmond
    desmond 15 February, 2016, 10:17

    And Leno arguing with illegal Moms that he is escorting 3rd graders on a tour of the capital. The Moms, thinking “they locked up people for life home in El Salvador, just for looking like that….He is at best a serial killer, probably a pedophile.”

    Reply this comment

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