Labor and capital pick their pre-election poison

Big-money battle over Measure A fuels DeMaio’s putative funding hopes

San Diego's big-money campaign money-raising merry-go-round has shifted into high gear, with cash from both big business and big labor pouring in for local political causes.

Among the heaviest hitters so far is the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 569, with $75,000 on September 2 for the committee against Measure A, sponsored by the San Diego Association of Governments to hike the sales tax by a half-cent for transportation and infrastructure projects.

Carl DeMaio

Carl DeMaio

Carl DeMaio, the former Republican city councilman and failed mayoral and congressional candidate — now a radio talk-show host — is also onboard the anti-A bandwagon. His Reform California political committee is soliciting contributions "in any amount" to beat the proposal, according to its website.

"Measure A is an 18.2-billion-dollar sales tax hike in San Diego with zero guarantees on where the politicians will spend the money," says DeMaio in a September 8 email missive.

Tom Sudberry

Tom Sudberry

"PS: I still remember a time when government was fine with a 4.75 percent sales tax. Measure A would raise the sales tax in San Diego to nearly 10 percent! That's why we have to defeat this thing!"

Among Measure A’s backers, with $10,000 on September 9, is giant North County landholder Rancho Guejito, which, insiders say, may be counting on the tax to ultimately pay for new roads and highways to accommodate the firm's once-proposed 23,000-acre real estate development.

Ray Ellis

Ray Ellis

In addition, Colton Sudberry, a scion of Mission Valley's Sudberry development clan, came up with $5000 for the Yes on A campaign on September 8, as did his father Thomas. According to lobbying disclosure reports on file with the city, Sudberry Properties is currently seeking "[State Route] 163/Friars Road interchange and freeway improvements."

Mara Elliott

Mara Elliott

Besides his Measure A cash, lobbyist filings show Thomas Sudberry hosted an April 14 fundraiser for failed Republican La Jolla city-council candidate Ray Ellis, producing $25,050, and a May 26 event for GOP mayor Kevin Faulconer, which took in $20,774.

Before that, on February 23, Thomas Sudberry threw a $23,440 fundraiser for Republican city attorney candidate Robert Hickey, who is facing off against Democrat Mara Elliott in November. Sudberry’s wife Jane did the same, according to an April 28 lobbyist disclosure filing.

Then, on May 31, Thomas Sudberry held a fundraiser for city councilman Scott Sherman, raising $11,050, and another Hickey event on April 7 that yielded $4150.

Business-related donors are united against San Diego Measure K, which would change the city charter to require that the top two vote-getters in city primary races appear on the general election ballot. Currently, candidates who fetch over 50 percent of the vote in the primary are automatically elected.

On September 8, the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce Political Action Committee gave $50,000 to fund Citizens for Fair and Honest Elections — No on Prop K. The GOP Lincoln Club also contributed $50,000. Both groups already spend heavily during election cycles, and additional run-offs could cost them dearly in more funding for extra mailings and TV spots.

Marne Foster

Marne Foster

Meanwhile, labor unions have anted up in a big way for Sharon Whitehurst-Payne, the San Diego school boardmember appointed last February to replace Marne Foster, another union favorite who was forced to resign after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor political-reform act violation related to solicitation of cash for her son's tuition.

The San Diego Education Association PAC gave $40,000 on September 8 to a committee it is sponsoring called Educators and Parents for Great Schools to Support Whitehurst-Payne for School Board 2016. The San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council gave $10,000 to the committee the day before.

Four years ago, six-figure contributions from national, state, and local charter school advocates rolled in for the campaign of Foster opponent Bill Ponder.

In the June primary, Whitehurst-Payne came in second to LaShae Collins, who garnered 60 percent of the vote to Whitehurst-Payne's 40 percent. Collins, district director for state Democratic assemblywoman Shirley Weber, has been endorsed by the county Democratic party as well as by a host of elected Democrats, including ex–Assembly speaker Toni Atkins.

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