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Why Are The Koch Brothers Backing a Democrat?

by Shawn M. Griffiths, published

CALIFORNIA --'s blog, Political Blotter, reported Tuesday that a Koch-backed group has entered the already PAC-filled special election for California Senate District 7 between Assemblymember Susan Bonilla (D-Concord) and Orinda Mayor Steve Glazer (D), a race that pits same-party candidates against each other because of California's new nonpartisan, "top-two" primary.

Independent Women's Voice, which receives funding from the Koch brothers, started airing ads Monday in the district attacking Bonilla for accepting trips abroad and other gifts from special interests:

The massive amount of IE involvement makes the special election in Senate District 7 look more like a race for U.S. Senate than State Senate. In total, independent-spending has reached approximately $6.23 million. According to the Political Blotter post, about $3.2 million of that has been spent on Glazer's behalf, while $3.03 million has been spent on Bonilla's behalf.



Where is this money coming from? According to the report, much of the IE spent on Glazer's behalf has come from Bill Bloomfield, an independent businessman from Southern California. Glazer is also backed by the California Chamber of Commerce's political action committee, JobsPAC.

Bonilla, on the other hand, is getting a lot of help from labor-backed groups like Steve Maviglio's Working Families Opposing Glazer, which is also funded by several labor organizations in the state.

From Political Blotter:

"“So why are the Koch Brothers trying to come to Steve Glazer’s rescue?” asked Steve Maviglio, who runs a union-funded independent expenditure group that’s backing Bonilla. “That’s a good question. Maybe Steve Glazer can answer it – or denounce the special interests that are working overtime to get him elected for airing it.”   Glazer “dislikes the independent expenditure activity by all sides,” spokesman Jason Bezis replied Tuesday. “He said at the recent League of Women Voters debate that voters should immediately throw away and recycle all of the flyers in the mail. Similarly, he feels that voters should ignore all of the misleading media advertising.”   Bezis said Glazer would rather that voters consult “trusted sources of analysis such as newspaper editorials and local leaders who have knowledge of these candidates.” Judge their respective endorsements for yourself: Bonilla here, and Glazer here." - Josh Richman, Political Blotter

Check out the full post here.

Under a traditional partisan election system, Koch-backed groups tend to support Republican candidates. However, California's nonpartisan, top-two primary has changed the dynamic where two candidates from the same party can appear on the general election ballot. In this race, a Koch-backed group has decided to support a more fiscally-conservative Democrat over a more liberal Democrat.

The question is, does the "Koch support," uninvited and uncontrolled by Glazer, actually hurt his chances in this race because of the negative connotation that the Koch's perceived affiliation with his campaign might draw in the eyes of voters?

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