Chevron-funded spending committees backed several losing candidates – to the tune of $3.1 million – on Election Day. Those who were defeated are now left to wonder what happened and whether Chevron’s money may have hurt rather than helped.
Tom Butt looked tired. At 8:00 p.m. on Election Day he finally sat down, stein of beer in hand, to wait for the results. He had been on his feet all day. Twelve hours earlier, the mayoral candidate had arrived to the first polling place on an itinerary of five, to do last-minute outreach.
City Councilman Tom Butt defeated his opponent Nat Bates, winning Richmond’s mayoral contest today and dealing a blow to local oil giant Chevron, which allocated over $3 million to political spending.
As voters head to the polls, the nation’s eyes will be on Richmond as the city decides the future of its leadership. Not only are Richmonders electing a new mayor and new city council members, but they’re also passing judgement on the effects of unlimited political spending.
If recent history is any indication, the fate of Tuesday’s Richmond municipal elections is likely to rest the hands of about a tenth of its roughly 107,000 residents.
A week ago, a website came to Richmond residents’ attention. It urges voters to support Chevron’s slate of favored candidates: Nat Bates for mayor, and Donna Powers and Charles Ramsey for City Council. And it also touts Jim Rogers and Jael Myrick for City Council. People immediately wondered, are Rogers and Myrick now on Chevron’s team?