By Tim Redmond
AUGUST 26, 2014 – The big fuss of the week, to the surprise of the leaders of the Harvey Milk Club, is the assault on the club by both the soda tax campaign and the campaign of Sup. David Chiu.
The Chron’s Heather Knight reported that the club had decided not to endorse the soda tax – and allowed the spokesperson for the soda-tax campaign to allege that this was a conspiracy to raise money for the Milk Club slate card to promote Chiu’s opponent, Sup. David Campos:
Maureen Erwin, campaign manager for the pro-soda tax side, said, “Harvey Milk’s name and legacy was bought and sold at the Milk club. … With only $20,000 in the bank, I believe it was Campos’ last-ditch, desperate play to remain relevant in the Assembly race, selling out his community’s health and the legacy of a civil rights hero to win an election.”
The Bay Guardian managed to dismiss a lot of the swirling rumors around the Milk Club and the ABA ($300,000? Really?), but also quoted Nicole Derse, who works for Chiu, as saying
Do you really think it’s a coincidence David Campos is broke and needs a vehicle to fund his campaign?
It’s interesting: Right after the vote on the Milk Club endorsements, I happened to be talking to the club’s co-president, Laura Thomas, about another issue, and we were musing on the Prop. E. vote. See, Thomas supports the soda tax; Tom Temprano, who shares the club leadership with her, opposes it. And they both agree that, either way, it’s not the club’s priority this fall — as far as initiatives go, the Milk Club is all about the anti-speculation tax.
Temprano writes for 48hills. I’m friends with all of these folks. And I honestly believe that the Milk Club was split – not by money but by an ideological disagreement about sales taxes. It doesn’t seem to me that the soda tax is regressive; nobody needs sugary drinks. (As a nonprofit, 48hills doesn’t endorse candidates or initiatives, but my personal feelings about this measure are no secret.)
But Temprano, like other friends of mine in the Milk Club, had strong feelings against the measure long before the ABA gave the club a dime.
And for the head of the soda-tax campaign to insult Campos – who voted FOR the tax, and was the sixth vote to put it on the ballot – is a bit tone deaf.
Here’s the much bigger issue: Everyone involved in this theory is operating under the assumption that the Campos campaign is out of money. Not true; not even close.
The Chron reported about a month ago the Campos was down to $20,000. Which was accurate at that moment – the Campos campaign spent most of its cash on the primary.
But the campaign is hardly “broke.” Campos told me he has raised $200,000 in the last couple of weeks, and is on target to bring in half a million by Election Day. That won’t beat Chiu’s numbers, but it’s hardly “broke.”
“We have already raised $700,000, and that’s far more than most people ever expected a progressive could raise in this race,” Campos said.
And with all due respect, the Milk Club card – even if it’s funded by the ABA – isn’t going to be the deciding factor in the Assembly race.
The Milk Club’s No on E gives the soda industry (which is not my friend) some precious credibility on the left, which make a big difference in that campaign (passing the tax requires a two-thirds vote).
But Chiu vs. Campos? Not so much. The club will have enough money with or without the ABA to send out its card, which will be of some help to Campos – but most of the Milk members and allies are voting for Campos anyway.
I get it: The supporters of the soda tax want to undermine the credibility of a prominent political club that went the other way. But making this about Campos and Chiu is just silly.