After a Talking Down by Nurses, Gavin Newsom Reverts to Backing Single Payer

California Lt Governor and candidate for Governor Gavin Newsom is once again backing SB 562, the single-payer health bill sponsored by the California Nurses Union (CNA) and introduced in the California Senate by Ricardo Lara and Toni Atkins. For calendar reasons, the State Senate passed the bill before the financial studies were finished, so the bill did not include funding mechanisms. Single payer proponents were expecting that these would be introduced as the bill was considered by the Assembly. Assembly speaker Anthony Rendon, however, did not allow this to happen, putting the bill to pasture instead. Single payer activists have been pushing Rendon to revive the bill, attach the funding and move California towards single payer.

CNA endorsed Gavin Newsom back in 2015 with the expectation that he would back single payer. However, he was publicly cagey about his support until he was forced to take a stance by delegates to the California Democratic Convention. At the time, he told delegates “I am with you” in support of SB 562.  After the Convention, however, Newsom made public statements opposing SB 562 and proposing a healthcare plan based on Healthy San Francisco, which provides a limited public option for people who cannot otherwise afford private insurance.  Healthy San Francisco only works with specific community hospitals and clinics and does not provide coverage for medical emergencies outside city limits.

CNA leadership has been under pressure from its members and outside allies alike to withdraw their endorsement of Newsom given his anti-SB 562 stance. The pressure seems to have worked on both leadership and Newsom, as he announced his support of SB 562 Friday morning, speaking at CNA’s Convention in San Francisco.  This should assure him of CNA’s continual support, but his equivocations on the bill have already damaged his credibility among single-payer supporters.

After taking $$$ from franchisee, Treasurer John Chiang shills for McDonald’s in Campaign Trail

California Treasurer and current candidate for Governor John Chiang surprised election watchers by taking to tweeter to shill for McDonald’s:

The fast food chain is often criticized by progressives for serving unhealthy food and contributing to child obesity and diabetes, for exploiting workers and paying them far below a living wage, and for resisting attempts to unionize its workforce.

Chiang’s photo-montage tweet was further surprising as it showed him holding a cheeseburger in front of the original McDonald’s in San Bernardino, which is now a museum:

Weird indeed.  The visit to the “original McDonald’s” was also touted on Chiang’s campaign website, though there is no word as to where he actually bought the burger in the photo.

But why would a Democratic candidate for Governor of California take time from his campaign to shill for a fast food chain?  A look at Chiang’s donor list may hold the answer.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Chiang’s third largest contributors are C.C. and Regina Yin, who together have given Chiang almost $100,000.  Moreover, the couple has hosted high-value fundraisers for Chiang that likely netted him tens if not hundreds of thousands dollars more.  The Yins own dozens of McDonald’s restaurants in California.

This is not the first time that John Chiang does favors for his campaign donors.  Last August, the Sacramento Bee reported that Chiang granted millions of dollars in tax breaks to developers who had donated to his campaign.

California is having statewide elections, Who Can Progressives Support?

We are less than a year away before the June election for California statewide officers, and I think that as a movement, we probably should get behind specific candidates.

As usual, our choices will fall between less-than-perfect but hopefully acceptable candidates with an actual chance to win and protest candidates, who have the right values but lack the experience for the job and/or the ability to mount a serious campaign.  This post is about the first kind. I totally respect the right of people to vote for the latter, in particular when there are no acceptable choices (and what’s acceptable will vary from person to person).  Not all of these candidates are necessarily those we might want to support as a movement, however, and listing here does not imply my personal support for them.

Delaine Eastin, candidate for Governor

Governor: There are four candidates that have a serious chance at winning, and among these I’m supporting Delaine Eastin, and I’d hope other Berniecrats would do as well.  Eastin is a former Assemblywoman and State Superintendent of Education, fully committed to funding and improving the education of our children. She’s calling for a moratorium on charter schools, for a free public college education and she supports SB 562, universal healthcare. After meeting her and speaking with her at length, I fully believe she is an old fashioned FDR Democrat who believes government can and should do large social projects to improve people’s lives.

The other three contenders seem to be in it for themselves. Villaraigosa calls single payer “snake oil“, Gavin Newsom will tell anyone what the want to hear and then do what business interests want and Chiang won’t take any poistion on practically anything.

Gayle McLaughlin, candidate for Lt Governor

Lt Governor: Gayle McLaughlin has been called the Bernie Sanders of Richmond and, if elected, she will be the Bernie Sanders of California. This former Mayor of Richmond is an anti-corporate activist, who has taken on Chevron head on and won, and who is committed to all the same principles than Bernie Sanders is.  She is the candidates progressives will back.

Other candidates for Lt General include State Senator Ed Hernandez, a well funded corporate Democrat who heads the Senate’s Health Committee and was endorsed by the nurse’s union after allowing SB 562, the single payer bill, to get through, and a trio of millionaires on vanity races.  Real estate developer Eleni Kounalakis, was a bundler for Hilary Clinton and Barak Obama, her contributions to the latter bought her an ambassadorship to Hungary.  Physician Asif Mahmood was also a bundler for Clinton and international corporate attorney Jeff Bleich was ambassador to Australia under Obama. All four of them are Democrats.

Ruben Major, Berniecrat candidate for Secretary of State

Secretary of State:  Incumbent Alex Padilla spent the 2016 primaries campaigning for Hillary Clinton and then oversaw primary elections filled with a multitude or problems, including voters finding their registration had been changed and they could no longer vote in the Democratic primary, voters being given the wrong ballots or not getting proper instructions on how to vote.  After the primary, Padilla did not investigate these issues or make a plan for fixing them.

He is being challenged by Berniecrat paramedic/business owner/blogger Ruben Major, who might be a protest candidate worth voting for.  He only announced a couple of weeks ago and I will endeavor to interview him and report back.

Dave Jones, candidate for Attorney General

Attorney General:  The choice here is between appointed incumbent AG Xavier Becerra and California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones.  Becerra supports the death penalty, which goes against the Democratic Party platform.  That makes him a nonstarter, as far as progressives go.  Dave Jones opposes the death penalty, has a record of prosecuting moneyed interests as insurance commissioner, is committed to criminal justice reform and has no interest in pursuing higher office, thus he will dedicate himself fully to this office.  He has not, as yet, committed to not accepting money form law enforcement interest, however.  He has been gaining momentum with Berniecrats/progressives.

Treasurer: This race appears to be between Assemblymember Mike Gatto and Board of Equalization member Fiona Ma.  I know almost nothing about either candidate’s record, but I will endeavor to learn about them.  If you have experience with either candidate, comment about them.

Controller:  Incumbent Betty Yee is running unopposed, so far. Yee is probably the most progressive statewide elected official, which isn’t saying much.

Insurance commissioner:  So far, State Senator Ricardo Lara seems to be the only candidate for this seat.  Lara can be praised for introducing SB 562, the single-payer bill, but activists are disappointed he hasn’t done more to fight for it since Assembly speaker Anthony Rendon shelved it.

Superintendent of Schools: The race here, so far, is between Assemblymember Tony Thurmond and charter school executive Marshall Tuck.   Thurmond is a progressive and I endorsed him when he first ran for Assembly, but he’s been steering towards corporate interests lately (he was a delegate for Hilary Clinton).

(Note: This article has and will be updated as more information becomes available).