In a late tactical shift, the super PAC funded by Democratic CA-53 House candidate Sara Jacobs’ billionaire grandparents has begun running attack ads against Jacobs’ opponent, Justice Democrats-endorsed progressive Georgette Gomez.
According to Federal Election Commission records, Forward California has spent nearly $704,000 since Oct. 14 on TV ads opposing Gomez. Forward California is funded exclusively by Jacob’s grandparents, Irwin and Joan Jacobs. Irwin Jacobs made his fortune as the co-founder and chairman of Qualcomm, a Fortune 500 semiconductor and telecommunications equipment company that is a contractor for the Department of Defense.
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The ad claims that Gomez, who is president of the San Diego City Council, “changed her position” on a city housing ordinance after taking money from developers and lobbyists. In a cease and desist letter to stations airing the ad, lawyers for Gomez’s campaign wrote, “there was no change in Ms. Gomez’s position supporting an affordable inclusionary housing plan ordinance.”
Gomez’s plan to boost affordable housing was vetoed by San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer in Sept. 19 and Gomez and her allies on the measure did not have enough support for an override. According to the San Diego Times-Union, Gomez then rewrote the plan with compromises the mayor wanted and it was accepted by the mayor.
Until California Forward began running the attack ad, all of the $2.8 million it had spent on ads and mailers had been positive messages supporting Jacobs.
Besides the millions of dollars her grandparents are spending on her behalf, Jacobs, who disclosed to the clerk of the U.S. House that she owns up to $25 million in Qualcomm stock, gave more than $5 million to her campaign. Jacobs, 31, is heavily invested in the tech industry, with stock holdings in Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft and PayPal. She also owns stock in multiple pharmaceutical companies, including Astrazeneca, Gilead Sciences, and Merck.
Gomez, whose only disclosed asset is a bank account with up to $15,000, has raised $1.6 million from individuals and PACs. Her top donors, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, are Service Employees International Union workers, employees of the city of San Diego, and employees of the University of California.
Gomez has also benefited from spending by outside groups including Democratic Majority for Israel, Equality PAC, and Committee for Hispanic Causes-BOLD PAC.
According to their websites, Jacobs and Gomez agree on many policy matters. Both say they support the Green New Deal, Medicare for All, and creating a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. But while Gomez has been endorsed by prominent progressives like Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Jacobs’ endorsers include leaders of the centrist New Democrat Coalition including Vice Chair for Member Services Rep. Scott Peters, Vice Chair for Outreach Rep. Terri Sewell, and Leadership Member Rep. Ami Bera.
The New Democrat Coalition is a group of pro-business House Democrats that describes itself as being “committed to pro-economic growth, pro-innovation, and fiscally responsible policies.” The group was founded in 1997 as an affiliate of the Democratic Leadership Council, a nonprofit that worked to shift the Democratic party away from populist, left-wing policies and towards a more business-friendly, Clintonian agenda.
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