Card Clubs 4, Chevron 0
Election Roundup: The giant Richmond casino lost, and so did Chevron's three candidates.
By Robert Gammon
Lost among the frenzy surrounding the Oakland mayor's race was one of the most interesting and underreported political stories in the East Bay. For decades, Chevron Corporation has wielded considerable influence over Richmond politics. But in recent years, the oil giant's political juice has diminished. So this year, it sought to re-exert its dominance by pumping an unprecedented $1 million into an effort to help three Richmond politicians who have carried its water over the years.
It was easily the most cash spent by a single entity in an East Bay race. And it was money wasted. All three of Chevron's favored candidates lost to candidates who have repeatedly stood up to the oil giant. But Chevron's defeat wasn't just about Richmond voters retaking control of their city. It also had to do with a mega, Las Vegas-style casino proposed for Richmond's waterfront.
East Bay card clubs, which feared that an Indian-run casino at Point Molate would put them out of business, poured more than a quarter of a million dollars into trying to defeat it — and to elect politicians and candidates who opposed it, too. Coincidentally, the same candidates who didn't want the casino also didn't like Chevron much either
The flashpoint was the mayor's race. Chevron spent heavily trying on Nat Bates, a casino supporter and long-time Chevron pal. The card clubs put their money on Mayor Gayle McLaughlin, a staunch casino opponent and Chevron nemesis. McLaughlin beat Bates 40.4 percent to 36.5 percent.
Chevron's two candidates for city council, Councilwomen Myrna Lopez and Maria Viramontes also lost, coming in fourth and fifth place in a contest in which only three spots were available. The winners were Councilman Jim Rogers and candidates Jovanka Beckels and Corky Boozé. All three have opposed the oil company over the years. And all are expected to respect the wishes of the voters who soundly rejected the casino proposal, 57.5 percent to 42.5 percent. In short, Richmond is no longer a company town.