“While he didn’t mention Prop. 6, that was certainly, to us, a flag that [was] signaling some support for the measure, whether he said Prop. 6 or not,” Labor Federation spokesman Steve Smith said Wednesday.
Proposition 6 on the November ballot would repeal Senate Bill 1, which aims via a 12-cents-a-gallon tax hike to improve roads, bridges and other state infrastructure.
The state Labor Federation still endorses Campa-Najjar, Smith told Times of San Diego. But it won’t back him with door-knocking, mailers or efforts to inform union members about him.
Smith couldn’t put a price tag on that support, but said the decision came after discussions with Campa-Najjar and San Diego’s labor council and Building and Construction Trades Council.
Asked for comment, Nick Singer of the Campa-Najjar campaign sent a link to a Rolling Stone magazine interview.
In it, Campa-Najjar is quoted as saying: “I’m against the gas tax in California. It’s a regressive tax. That makes no sense to me. The gas tax is so unpopular in my district, but liberals statewide love it. I think it’s foolish.”
Campa-Najjar has opposed the gas tax since at least August, when the Los Angeles Times detailed how several Democrats were against it. But he hasn’t explicitly backed Prop. 6.
That prompted the labor group to urge the dissident Democrats to try a new tack.
In the case of Campa-Najjar, trying to woo Republicans in the deeply red 50th Congressional District of East County, the labor group advised a different strategy.
“You know, there’s a very easy answer to this,” Smith said. “His opponent, Duncan Hunter, has not fought for infrastructure investment as a member of Congress. He’s not bringing those dollars back to the district.”
Smith said Campa-Najjar could argue that if Hunter were doing his job, “Californians wouldn’t have to dip into their own pocket to make these critical road and bridge safety projects happen.”
“We left those conversations [with Campa-Najjar] that he was going to be talking about infrastructure investment and he was not going to be talking about the gas tax,” Smith said in a phone interview.
“And so at that time we felt we could continue our support. Then we saw the ad. We just couldn’t in good conscience continue to support his campaign.”
Smith said his group didn’t cancel its endorsement of Campaign-Najjar, however. They didn’t have the time, “nor really the inclination” to do that.
Defeating Prop. 6 is a “top priority” for the Labor Federation, Smith said.
On Tuesday, Dan Morain of CALmatters noted that organized labor has spent $17.1 million to defeat Prop. 6.
“Labor’s share represents 42 percent of $42.7 million raised so far to kill the initiative,” Morain wrote. “Construction companies and their consultants have given the bulk of the rest, $23.4 million, my analysis of campaign finance filings shows.”
The Labor Federation’s Smith said: “As far as I know, no unions have asked for money back from [Campa-Najjar]. Neither have we.”
Updated at 5:35 p.m. Oct. 24, 2018
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