Capitol Alert

Would-be candidates for California governor getting more TV time than actual aspirants

Tom Steyer hedge-fund manager and environmentalist speaks during a panel on “Investor Actions on Climate Change” at the COP21, United Nations Climate Change Conference, in Le Bourget north of Paris, Friday, Dec. 4, 2015.
Tom Steyer hedge-fund manager and environmentalist speaks during a panel on “Investor Actions on Climate Change” at the COP21, United Nations Climate Change Conference, in Le Bourget north of Paris, Friday, Dec. 4, 2015. AP

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, the first to declare for the far-off governor’s race in 2018, is backing two measures on the fall statewide ballot.

But Newsom, who supports gun control and marijuana legalization initiatives, has yet to appear in a California television ad this cycle.

Treasurer John Chiang, the other declared gubernatorial candidate, also hasn’t hit the paid airwaves for any of his preferred causes.

Two other high-profile Democrats considering runs, however, are all over TV.

Tom Steyer, the billionaire climate activist, on Friday debuted in an ad for Proposition 56, the $2-a-pack tobacco tax increase. He called the issue “very personal” because his mother was a longtime smoker and died of lung cancer.

Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who earlier this year said he still has “a lot of service left in me,” spent part of Thursday in the studio cutting a spot for Proposition 51, the $9 billion school construction bond.

“Our children deserve a learning environment free from asbestos, lead paint, and classrooms with properly working air conditioners, heating units and functioning ventilation systems,” Villaraigosa said of the need for the measure.

Both men have been active beyond the ballot initiative campaigns, further fueling speculation it’s only a matter of time until they formally declare for office. Both have said they won’t make a decision until after the Nov. 8 election.

In another ad, Steyer called Republican presidential candidates, including Donald Trump, “dangerous people.” He also starred in a spot crediting California’s clean air laws for reducing pollution and creating jobs.

Villaraigosa, meantime, is in a series of “water awareness” ads airing on Spanish-language TV stations. For the TV-free crowd, he’s supposed to be featured in slate mail cards targeting 1.6 million Latino households.

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago

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