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Brown Tax Campaign Raises Big Bucks, Waits to Spend

New report indicates governor's warchest is healthy

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Gov. Jerry Brown and his advisors aren't sharing a lot of their campaign strategy when it comes to convincing voters to approve Proposition 30, his package of temporary taxes on the November ballot.

    But what's clear is that Brown believes the campaign won't get started until after Labor Day.

    Newly-filed campaign reports show the governor's Prop 30 committee is sitting on just over $5 million in cash.

    All told, his committee raised $6.2 million between January and the end of June. That indicates he has spent very little so far.

    The only campaign activity, other than fundraising, was the recent release of a Web ad setting the stage for the fall campaign.

    A look through records at the Secretary of State's office show that labor, as expected, has been generous.

    The State Building Trades Council contributed $250,000, for example.

    But some big business interests have ponied up serious cash as well. Occidental Petroleum cut a check for $250,000, as did the American Beverage Association.

    Blue Shield gave $150,000. And the California Association of Hospitals and Health Systems kicked in $500,000.

    The entertainment industry has also been generous. NBC-Universal gave $100,000, as did Sony Pictures and Warner Brothers.

    California's gaming tribes are also betting heavily on the governor's tax package. Among the six-figure givers are the Agua Caliente tribe, the Sycuan Band, and the San Pablo Lytton Band.

    These numbers are just the beginning, of course. Brown and his supporters know it will be an expensive campaign to convince voters of the need to raise the sales tax and the income tax rate on the state's wealthiest citizens.

    Statewide TV commercials can cost a couple of million dollars just for a week's run. So the fundraising is just warming up. 

    Jerry Brown's opponents haven't raised much so far, and aren't expected to.

    They're counting on negative press coverage of issues like accounting irregularities at the Parks Department, and skepticism about High Speed Rail to sink Prop 30.

    Brown's got a tough task, but he asked for the job.

    Look for him to spend the fall in a fundraising blitz meant to fill the airwaves in the weeks leading up to the November election.

    His job is to sell voters on the idea of acting, not in their own self-interest, but that of the state's.

    Author Kevin Riggs, an Emmy-winning former TV reporter in Sacramento, is Senior Vice President at Randle Communications.

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