Professor Smith Comments on Chevron's Ineffective Big Spending in Richmond Election

Thursday, November 06, 2014
SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE -- Voters elected City Councilman Tom Butt as mayor and outgoing mayor Gayle McLaughlin, incumbent Jovanka Beckles and retired teacher Eduardo Martinez to the City Council, giving the panel a potential 6-1 left-leaning majority. “It’s extraordinary. This is a celebration of democracy,” said San Francisco State Political Science Professor Robert Smith, who studies Richmond politics. “This means that big money doesn’t always win, that ordinary people can defeat huge corporate power.” Chevron spent more than $3 million supporting Charles Ramsey, Donna Powers and Albert Martinez for council and longtime Councilman Nat Bates for mayor. Butt won with 51.4 percent of the votes, with Bates trailing at 35.5 percent. “This was an all-out attempt to destroy the (Richmond Progressive Alliance), and people just said, ‘This is too much.’ They were repulsed by it,” Smith said. “That was coupled with an unrivaled effort by the RPA to get out the vote.”