You may have heard some of the figures, but despite this being a mid-term election, this has, for various reasons, become the most expensive mid-term election in American history. And even though people don't historically care that much when there isn't a presidential race happening, there is a lot happening today even outside the House and Senate races. John Oliver used his weekly rant platform on HBO this week to point out why you ought to care about your state legislature e.g. state legislatures have passed more than 24,000 bills since January, while Congress has passed only about 150. All that aside, we bring you a couple of the smaller races in nearby cities, and in the state, that have garnered attention and big campaign dollar amounts for various reasons.
Richmond Mayor's Race
The race to become a small-town mayor across the Bay, in the city of Richmond, made national news last month as MSNBC's Rachel Maddow picked up the story about how Chevron was backing candidate Nat Bates to the tune of $1.3 million in advertising (as of mid-October), compared to second-best-funded candidate, City Councilman Tom Butt, who had funding of about $22,000. Maddow discusses how Chevron has run up against problems with the liberal wing of the Richmond City Council, and the outgoing mayor, and how they appear to be trying to use their "Brinks truck" worth of cash to essentially install whomever they want so that they have less trouble doing business in Richmond going forward. (SFist has earlier reported on the Chevron-backed news site The Richmond Standard, which has remained notably quiet about this election.) It'll be fascinating to see whether Chevron spent its money well, or whether voters know better and vote their own way, despite the enormous sums spent on ads and mailers. Here's who the Richmond Progressive Alliance would like to see win.
Below, Maddow's prescient commentary.
Oakland City Council District 2
By far the most recognizable face vying for elected office across the bay this year is former KPIX anchor (and noted penis sculptress) Dana King. She's trying to get a seat on Oakland's City Council, but some have criticized her as a carpetbagger since she only moved there from Sausalito two years ago. She's also pretty well funded, and has the backing of pal Gavin Newsom, and seems pretty likely to win for all these reasons. But, of course, she has no experience in politics, and she shows that inexperience when she lets loose with quotes like this, "Gentrification is development. It’s important to embrace and help to drive it and shape it. We can get involved and try to drive that engine ourselves." That quote was scrubbed from this profile, the headline of which used to read "Dana King Praises Gentrification." In these times when the G-word is one of the most hot-button issues there is, she probably could have finessed that a little better. Anyway, look for her to probably win the Council seat.
Here she is giving a "message of gratitude" already, wearing a weird rubber smock.
Oakland Mayor's Race
Our extremely diverse sister city to the east arguably the most diverse mid-sized city in the country has once again got a bit of a circus on its hands in the race for the next mayor with 15 people running (including possible troll candidate Peter Liu). Incumbent Jean Quan has had a tough go of it since taking office in a ranked-choice coup back in 2010, not the least of which was her bungling of the Occupy situation and her under-funding of the police department, and she seems unlikely to hold onto her office this election. In the lead running against her are City Councilwoman Libby Schaaf, Councilwoman-at-Large Rebecca Kaplan (who came in third in the 2010 election, and is popular with younger voters), and law professor Joe Tuman, who was motivated to join the race after his car was broken into in the Trestle Glen neighborhood. (See all the candidates here.) This, like the election in 2010, and because there are so many candidates, is very likely going to go into ranked-choice, after-hours tabulating.
A veritable shit-ton of money has flowed from both the trial lawyer lobby and the medical lobby for and against (respectively) this state ballot measure, which the doctor and insurance lobbies have argued well is mostly just a ruse to raise the cap on medical malpractice settlements for "pain and suffering," for the benefit of lawyers. The cap on those payments, made in the 1970s, is still $250,000, but Prop 46 would raise it to $1.1 million, while also requiring drug testing for doctors something that most hospitals already do, and which was likely just a provision added on here to mask the true intent of the measure. So far, the insurance lobby has spent over $100 million on their No on 46 campaign combined with their No on 45 campaign (Prop 45 forces insurers to get special approvals to raise premiums).
Will all their advertising work? Stay tuned later tonight to find out.