Just two weeks out from California’s recall election, radio host Larry Elder, who has emerged as the front runner among the field of 46 challengers, has managed to attract a significant amount of cash from prominent real estate developers.
Real estate developers, investors, brokers and other individuals related to the industry have poured around $513,000 into Elder’s recall campaign to unseat Governor Gavin Newsom and a committee supporting Elder, according to a Real Deal analysis of California Secretary of State contribution filings through the end of August.
In total, Elder has received just over 700 donations from around 600 individuals that disclosed they are employed in the real estate industry.
Contributions to Elder are dwarfed by the $4.8 million that real estate players have contributed to a committee supporting Governor Newsom.
Newsom has received monetary support from the California Association of Realtors and the California Building Industry Association, as well as a number of prominent developers, including Barry Lang, Related California’s William Witte and Pacific Companies’ Caleb Roope.
Still, for a candidate with few ties to the real estate industry, Elder has garnered the support of real estate donors that want the governor out on Sept. 14.
Elder has been vocal about the housing crisis in California and the need to eliminate regulations to help developers build low-income housing across the state.
“I’ve talked to a lot of developers, and a lot of them are completely demoralized, disillusioned, and many of them are building outside of California precisely because of [the California Environmental Quality Act],” Elder said in an interview earlier this month.
If he wins the recall election, Elder has proposed to suspend the CEQA to allow developers to build on government land — building on a plan from former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.
“We need to build low-cost housing so they have somewhere to go,” Elder said at an event in Mission Valley earlier this month. “We cannot tolerate what’s going on, having people pitching tents and sleeping on sidewalks.”
Other recall candidates, including real estate multimillionaire John Cox and former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, have also received donations from the real estate industry.
Many of the real estate players that have donated to Elder’s recall campaign have not contributed to other recall contenders or committees supporting the recall.
Theory Properties’ Gary and Catherine Daichendt donated a total of $64,800 to Elder’s campaign. The Scottsdale-based investment firm owns the 90,000-square-foot Pierside Pavilion retail and restaurant development in Huntington Beach and a property in Rancho Santa Margarita. Neither have previously donated to a recall campaign.
Elder has also received $10,000 from Jeffrey Karsh, a partner at Los Angeles-based investment firm Tryperion Partners, which invests in office, industrial, multifamily, hospitality and retail properties across the U.S.
Colton Sudberry, the president of San Diego-based Sudberry Properties, gave $5,000 to Elder’s campaign, as did Scott Kepner, a partner at San Francisco-based Village Investment Partners.
Palmer gives again
One of Elder’s top real estate donors also happens to be one of the largest funders of the recall effort.
Geoff Palmer, president of Beverly Hills-based G.H. Palmer Associates and a generous supporter of former President Donald Trump, has given $1 million to a committee for Larry Elder and $32,400 to Elder’s own 2021 campaign.
In total, Palmer has given over $400,000 to campaigns supporting the recall, as well as $32,400 to recall contender Kevin Faulconer.
The industry still wants Newsom
Though Elder has emerged as a potential unseater, the real estate industry is still largely backing Governor Newsom.
Since July, the governor has received hundreds of thousands of dollars more in contributions from real estate players across the state.
Barry Lang, a founding partner of Covington Group, which develops industrial and commercial properties across the U.S., has donated $250,000 to a committee supporting Newsom.
The committee also has received $150,000 from Clinton Reilly Homes, the owner of San Francisco-based Clint Reilly, which owns a number of commercial properties in the city, and $50,000 from Related California’s William Witte. Related California is developing a 9-million-square-foot, mixed-use development in Santa Clara, expected to open in 2023.
It’s not just commercial real estate that’s backing Newsom, either. Joyce Rey, a prominent broker for Coldwell Banker in Beverly Hills, donated $5,000 to the same committee.