A new political committee created to back California legislative candidates with courage has decided not to drop cash on the general election races.
Govern for California was launched last year by Democrat David Crane, a former adviser to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, investor Ron Conway and WalMart Board of Directors member Greg Penner, who are both registered without a party preference. The committee was one of several new political efforts created in the wake of California's new political maps and top two primary system.
Crane committed $250,000 in what he called "seed money" for the group's independent expenditure committee this spring, saying the committee had identified up to five candidates it might support on the 2012 ballot.
The committee ended up trying to boost just one of those five -- Democrat Brian Johnson -- ahead of the June primary. Despite heavy spending from Govern for California and other groups, Johnson failed to beat out a Democratic rival to secure a spot in the November runoff for the open 46th Assembly District.
Instead of joining the general election fray this year, the group has decided to shift a focus to 2014. Shaudi Fulp, its newly hired chief political strategist, said the committee hopes to focus more on candidate recruitment ahead of the next round of legislative races and put "a little more flesh to the bone so candidates and the world around us really know what we stand for."
"Given the Brian Johnson race, David and the group learned a great number of lessons that we are now heeding," Fulp said in an interview late last week. "He really wants to revamp the organization to make sure we've got an integrated and sophisticated political operation."
Fulp, a former lobbyist for Chevron Corporation, said several other factors contributed the decision, including an already saturated playing field for independent expenditure campaigns and primary election outcomes that left several candidates on the committee's radar in non-competitive November matches.
"It's not to say that there aren't any courageous candidates on the field," she added of the lack of spending this fall. "We definitely think there are a few coming in."