Billionaire investor Chamath Palihapitiya announces new details on a potential run for California governor

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Chamath Palihapitiya, billionaire investor and CEO of venture capital firm Social Capital, announced new details about a potential run for California governor on Tuesday.

Palihapitiya, a Sri Lankan-born Canadian American and former Facebook employee, tweeted about his intentions to run on Twitter, saying “It’s on. #RecallGavinNewsom” with a link to a “Chamath for California Governor” campaign website.

Palihapitiya could be running for the 2022 Gubernatorial race or potentially for a special election, though outside of his tweets and website there has not been any official announcement. It does not appear that any political forms have been submitted yet by Palihapitiya to the California Secretary of State.

While current California Governor Newsom has not yet confirmed plans to run for governor again in 2022, in his initial tweet Palihapitiya showed his support for a movement that has been sweeping Silicon Valley — Rescue California.

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By tweeting “#RecallGavinNewsom,” Palihapitiya joins an effort to force a recall vote for Newsom which would lead to a special election later in 2021. The movement reached 1.2 million signatures Friday, according to a tweet from California State Assembly member Kevin Kiley. The most recent effort that was started in June is the sixth attempt to oust Newsom in two years. The petition needs to reach about 1.5 million signatures by March 17 in order to force recall.

In 2019, Newsom issued a statement condemning earlier recall efforts.

“This unwarranted recall efforts will cost California taxpayers $81 million,” Newsom said in his response. “It is being pushed by political extremists supporting President Trump’s hateful attacks on California.”

An LA Times investigation into Rescue California, released Saturday, found that early on in the petition several recall campaign leaders worked alongside radical groups like QAnon.

Newsom’s performance during pandemic under attack

Some California residents have been unhappy with Newsom’s performance as governor, especially when it comes to inconsistent shutdowns and a slower-than-expected vaccine rollout.

Many tech leaders have also been critical, with several companies moving their headquarters to other states. Last year, Tesla founder Elon Musk moved his company to Texas, while other companies like Shutterstock have moved to Florida.

“California is heading off an economic cliff and Governor Gavin Newsom is driving the car,” the Rescue California website reads. “Voters are angry, and they have a right to be. Newsom has devastated the state’s economy with his dictatorial on-again, off-again shutdown orders. We pay the highest taxes in the nation for a state government that treats business and middle-income families as the enemy, catering exclusively to monied special interests in Sacramento.”

Rescue California efforts would mimic the state’s 2003 election. In 2003, California held a special election to replace incumbent Democratic Governor Gray Davis with Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

COVID-19 has hit the state hard. In the past few months, California has been one of the leading states in coronavirus infections. LA County has lead the surge. The county has been forced to shut down numerous Hollywood productions as well as change air quality regulations just to be able to burn all the bodies of those who have died in the outbreak.

Billionaire investor calls for tax cuts and focus on education

On his website, Palihapitiya outlines his platform for California governor, calling for radical change.

“California is a mess — it’s too expensive, our teachers are underpaid, and our schools aren’t good enough,” Palihapitiya writes on his website.

In his plans, he proposes cutting taxes from 16% to 0%, which he claims will double state revenue from $15 billion to $30 billion.

Palihapitiya also focuses on plans for education, including free school vouchers that allow students to pick any school they want to attend, a plan to alleviate student debt in California, as well as a minimum $70,000 salary for teachers.

With his tech background at Facebook and as a prominent investor, Palihapitiya is interested in maintaining California’s reputation as a technology hub, especially as more people have started to move out of the Bay Area.

“Let’s make California the global center of all tech & climate jobs by realigning our incentives rather than pushing them away,” Palihapitiya writes on his website.

He also proposes providing $2,000 for every child born in California in order to encourage people to stay and build roots in the state.

Palihapitiya was not immediately available to respond to requests for comment from Insider.

As a billionaire investor dubbed the next Warren Buffet by some, Palihapitiya said on Twitter if he becomes governor he plans to keep investing and running his company, Social Capital, though he will donate his profits to California pensions.

Chamath would likely continue the state’s focus on alleviating climate change and turning toward green energy.

On Monday, Palihapitiya announced he would be leading a $250 million investment in Sunlight Financial, a solar company. The investor has also been outspoken when it comes to his support of electric vehicles and cryptocurrencies like bitcoin.

Source : Business Insider