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Who’s Funding the California Recall Fight? It’s Not the People

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AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File

Recall elections are ostensibly designed to give citizens an opportunity to change the course of state politics from the bottom up. But when it comes to who is financing California’s recall battle, there is little to suggest much grassroots fervor. In fact, small donors are virtually absent from the process.

Heading into next month’s recall election, California Governor Gavin Newsom has an enormous cash advantage over the hodgepodge group of conservative activists trying to unseat him. (In order to prevail, a majority of California voters will need to vote in favor of the recall on September 14; if that happens, the write-in candidate with the most votes will be declared the winner.) At last count, both sides in the recall fight had collectively raised more than $65 million, but nearly 90 percent of that—$58 million—has flowed to groups supporting Newsom. The California governor does have one big advantage in the money race. Since he is not technically a candidate, his backers are not constrained by spending limits, which only apply to those running for office (Newsom is already in office). The pro-recall effort has raised just $7.7 million.

That doesn’t include the money raised by individual candidates trying to unseat Newsom. The top six GOP challengers running to replace him have raised a combined $17.7 million. John Cox, a California businessman who lately has been polling around 6 percent, has the largest war chest—$7.6 million, but the bulk of that ($6.9........

© Mother Jones

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