Long Game, Low Stakes: Campaign Begins for 2018 Lt. Governor’s Race

AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli,File
AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli,File

With the California lieutenant governor’s seat open in 2018 because Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom will be termed out, a plethora of current and former legislators are taking actions that suggest their possible candidacies.

As Jon Fleischman, the politics editor of Breitbart CA, explained, “California law says an incumbent politician cannot raise money unless he or she is seeking an office. But since politicians, to determine limits, cannot shake the office that they occupy, they often pick an arbitrary statewide office and open a committee, which allows them to raise and spend funds, thus effectively doing an end run around the spirit of that law.”

Thus seven current and former state legislators are raising money by opening committees, which may be used for a run for the lieutenant governor’s seat. According to the Los Angeles Times, they include:

Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles), who has raised $42,000 from three Indian casino operators, a law enforcement group and the California Association of Health Underwriters PAC.

Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Glendale), who has raised over $58,000 for his 2018 lieutenant governor committee; he also has a committee for a 2016 state Senate run.

Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), who has raised $88,000 for a campaign committee for the 2018 lieutenant governor’s race.

Other prospective candidates who have created committees include Sen. Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres), Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina), former Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), and GOP Rep. Jeff Denham of the Central Valley, according to the Times.

Allan Hoffenblum, who publishes the California Target Book, said that even though some politicians have filed statements of intention to run for lieutenant governor, they may be opening committees simply “to park their money.” He added that the candidates might save the money and use it for other races instead.

The California Fair Political Practices Commission states:

A state candidate may transfer funds from one of his or her controlled election committees to another. Except as discussed below, funds transferred from one of a state candidate’s controlled election committees to another are subject to contribution limits. The transferred funds must be attributed to specific contributors of the committee making the transfer and count toward the amount those contributors may give to the committee receiving the transfer.


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