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California Primary: Asian American legislators protest ad attacking John Chiang

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and Treasurer John Chiang battle it out.

Views from the Edge

With less than two weeks to go before voters go to the polls for the California primary, the race for governor is turning nasty with a negative ad targeting fellow Democrat John Chiang from frontrunner Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom.

In a way, the attack ad is a compliment to Chiang, who has an outside chance of going head to head against Newsom in the November elections. He is airing an aggressive campaign against his chief rival, former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

Asian American and Pacific Islander legislators wrote a strong protest letter to the California Medical Association and the California Dental Association, both of whom endorsed Newsom, protesting the ad’s message.

In a press release, Chiang’s campaign called the TV spot “false and erroneous” and said that the attack from Newsom is a sign that Chiang is gaining public support.

The battle for the June 5 primary in the governor’s race is for No. 2. Newsom has consistently polled far ahead of everybody else. In California’s rules, the top two vote-getters in the primary will have a run-off in November, regardless of party.

Newsom’s attack ad claims that Chiang, who previously served as state treasurer and state controller, “lost track of $31 billion” during his stint as controller.

The Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus, chaired by Assemblymember Rob Bonta, sent a letter to the two medical groups in protest.

“John is a strong advocate for true access to high-quality, affordable healthcare for all Californians,” the letter said. “He believes that health care is a right for all, not a privilege for just the wealthy. He will protect and defend the Affordable Care Act against attacks from Washington. He will also prioritize access to preventative care, basic primary care, and he will fight to make needed prescription drugs affordable and accessible.

“These negative attacks on John are unfounded and unwarranted. Any effort to diminish his track record of accomplishments with negative attacks is extremely misguided. We call on CDA and CMA to cease these attacks immediately,” the letter concluded.

It still doesn’t explain why Newsom would spend some of his campaign chest against Chiang, who a month ago most observers believe finish third on JUne 5 – at best – but still out of the money.

As for who would run against Newsom in November, it’s a tossup. Most polls have the contest between Villaraigosa and one of the two Republicans running for governor-Assemblymember Travis Allen or John Cox. Sunday, however, the San Francisco Chronicle had the three Democrats — Villaraigosa  Chiang and Delaine Eastin as the frontrunners for number 2..

Chiang’s campaign created a website in November 2017 that highlighted a 2009 San Francisco Weekly article recalling Gavin’s time as San Francisco’s mayor. It was headlined “Why was Mayor Gavin Newsom’s San Francisco Called ‘the Worst Run Big City’ in the U.S.?”

The website was taken down in January 2018 and Parke Skelton, Chiang’s political consultant, resigned after that.

A political action committee (not affiliated or connected with Chiang’s campaign) called Asian American Small Business PAC, created an anti-Newsom ad, which uses innuendo to suggest to viewers of an affair Newsom had in 2005 when he was San Francisco mayor. While the ad was never televised, it remains on the group’s website and the PAC has the money in its war chest to air it.

As a registered PAC, Chiang has no control what the group puts out, but Newsom does control the content of his campaign ad against Chiang.

“Gavin Newsom’s desperate attempt to attack John’s record is evidence that John is gaining momentum, and that Gavin is scared to confront his biggest one-on-one threat this November,” said Fabien Levy, Deputy Campaign Manager and Communications Director for John Chiang’s campaign in the press release. “These dirty attacks show Gavin lacks the integrity to be governor and can’t be trusted to tell the truth.”

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  1. RE: California Primary: Asian American legislators protest Ad Attacking John Chiang: I’m sorry I don’t see why Asian American groups are getting involved. This isn’t an attack based on his being Asian.


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