Bernie Sanders, barnstorming California ahead of the June 7 primary, is wading into contentious state issues, first endorsing a fall ballot initiative imposing price controls on state drug purchases, then a separate measure legalizing recreational marijuana.
Sanders, a Vermont senator and torch-bearer for progressive policies, now has decided to choose sides in the intraparty feud between Democratic San Francisco supervisors running to succeed state Sen. Mark Leno, who is terming out of office after this year.
Jane Kim, going against Scott Wiener in the 11th Senate District, was among eight candidates running for legislative seats across the county that Sanders included in a Tuesday email to his national fundraising list.
The daughter of Korean immigrants, Kim is touted in Sanders’ email as “a civil rights attorney who’s fought for affordable housing and fair wages in her city.”
Sanders’ appeal could help Kim close the yawning financial deficit between her and Wiener, yet it also is an example of the kind of legacy Sanders is trying to leave should he, as is likely the case, finish behind frontrunner Hillary Clinton in the presidential contest. Kim, like Sanders, wants to make community colleges free. She would pay for this with a transfer tax on expensive homes.
Wiener, endorsed by the California Democratic Party and Leno, has raised $1.4 million and spent about $560,000, compared with Kim, who took in $667,000 and spent some $207,000, though Sunday.
Kim, despite being endorsed by Democratic Party Chairman John Burton, also trails badly in outside spending, where Wiener benefits from about $200,000 in independent expenditures, much of it from LGBT-rights group Equality California. Community and labor groups have tallied $17,450 on behalf of Kim.
Eric Jaye, Kim’s campaign strategist, said she’s received about 400 small donations in the hour since Sanders sent his email blast. Jaye said Wiener is being backed by corporate interests.
“Is this helpful to close that (financial) gap? Absolutely,” he said. “But it’s also just emblematic of the two candidates.”