[Marxism] grass roots activists defeat Chevron Oil in Richmond, CA elections

Dayne Goodwin daynegoodwin at gmail.com
Wed Nov 5 21:33:59 MST 2014

Big money politics suffers big blow in Richmond as Chevron spending backfires

by Robert Rogers
Contra Costa Times [northern California]
November 5, 2014

RICHMOND -- What does $3.1 million in campaign spending by one of the
world's largest corporations buy in Richmond?

Boulevards studded with billboards, mailboxes stuffed with fliers and
fleets of campaign workers -- but no seats on the City Council.

Voters on Tuesday rejected the avalanche of spending by Chevron --
perhaps the most ever by a corporation in a local election -- in the
oil giant's effort to tilt the balance of power on a City Council that
has grown increasingly hostile toward its mammoth refinery here in
recent years. Instead, voters handed the energy Goliath an
embarrassing black eye, tapping a slate of progressive anti-Chevron
candidates who promise resolute oversight of the city's largest
taxpayer in the years ahead -- including a lawsuit stemming from the
August 2012 refinery fire that sent thousands to the hospital.

Chevron's campaign, which drew national scorn and was waged by a
phalanx of campaign committees steered by San Francisco public
relations firms, culminated in a stunning repudiation. Candidates
backed by the Richmond Progressive Alliance, a mostly volunteer
organization, emerged with a tighter grip than ever on local
government. Six of the seven council seats could soon be occupied by
progressive-leaning politicians critical of the refinery.

"As a political scientist, one has to look at this outcome with a
smile," said Robert Smith, a San Francisco State University professor
who followed the race. "People who believe in democracy got a boost;
this showed that people can organize and triumph, and over big money."

Longtime Councilman Tom Butt easily defeated Chevron-backed Nat Bates
for mayor, and "Team Richmond," comprising outgoing Mayor Gayle
McLaughlin, incumbent Jovanka Beckles and newcomer Eduardo Martinez,
appear to have nailed down the three full-term council seats, despite
relentless attacks by a Chevron-backed political action committee that
portrayed them as everything from absentee politicians to, in
McLaughlin's case, a lobbyist for Cuban spies.

With an undetermined number of mail-in and provisional ballots still
to be counted, Martinez led longtime incumbent Jim Rogers by 292 votes
for the third council seat.

The four candidates backed by Moving Forward, the committees into
which Chevron poured money, all lost.
. . .

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