By Ben Christopher
The opponents of Proposition 30, a proposal to tax millionaires to fund electric car incentives and infrastructure, want California voters to keep one thing in mind when they decide how to vote on the measure:
Gavin Newsom’s face.
A new “No on 30” ad features the governor — and only the governor — speaking out against the proposal in no uncertain terms.
- Newsom: “Prop. 30 is a Trojan horse that puts corporate welfare above the fiscal welfare of our entire state.”
The battle over that measure may be the clearest recent example of how politics makes strange bedfellows. One one side: Lyft, facing a regulatory deadline to electrify its fleet of cars, has teamed up with environmental activists, the California Democratic Party and some of the same labor groups that so vociferously opposed the ride-hailing company’s successful bid in 2020 to exempt itself from a law making it harder to classify workers as independent contractors.
Now the editorial board at the governor’s hometown paper has weighed in.
- San Francisco Chronicle: “The clock is ticking to decarbonize California. For all its flaws, Prop. 30 is a crucial effort to meet the urgency of the moment.”
Standing against the measure are the Chamber of Commerce and the California Republican Party, but also the California Teachers Association and, as the new ad makes very clear, Newsom.
Yes, that Newsom, who wants to phase out the use of gas-powered cars by 2035.
For the No camp, adopting the governor’s chiseled face as a campaign logo is a calculated political move. A July survey of likely voters in California found that 63% support the concept of the initiative. But according to an internal poll conducted by the “No” camp, those numbers flipped when its respondents were informed that the state’s top Democrat doesn’t like it.
- A statement from Clean Air California, the coalition supporting Prop. 30: “It is disappointing that the Governor would side with the California Republican Party and a handful of San Francisco billionaires who would rather kids breathe toxic, polluted air than pay their fair share.”
Though the spending data isn’t public yet, the No campaign says it plans to broadcast the ad across the state at a “seven-figure” cost.
That may explain why the campaign raised an extra $2.1 million last Friday alone. That new round of cash to fight the measure came from those who would be most likely to pay a new income surtax, should it pass (i.e. super rich people).
The biggest givers included San Francisco real estate investor Bob Emery, private equity investor Bruce Karsh and — through a 0% interest loan — Catherine Dean, chief operating officer of Govern For California, an organization at the center of a politically influential donor network that has up until now focused on legislative races and that my colleagues Alexei Koseff, Jeremia Kimelman and I wrote about recently.
In an email sent to Govern For California’s supporters at the end of the legislative session last month, founder David Crane wrote that the organization would now “turn our attention to the opposition campaign against Proposition 30.”
Dean, along with Mark Heising, a major Govern For California supporter, are listed in the ad as the campaign’s top funders. Full disclosure: Heising, along with many Govern For California donors are financial supporters of CalMatters, which retains full authority over editorial content and makes news judgments independent of donor support.