Daybreak PAC hopes to push Legislature leftward

The state Capitol in Sacramento. (Photo: Cassionhabib, via Shutterstock)

On March 23, about 80 people gathered on a Zoom call to launch Daybreak PAC,  a political action committee aimed at moving the California Legislature to the left by supporting progressive candidates and policies.

The PAC is headed by activist Jackie Fielder, an unsuccessful state Senate candidate who challenged incumbent Democrat Scott Wiener last year in San Francisco. Fielder lost by 60,000 votes, but her campaign drew attention from progressives for her ability to build a substantial base of small donors.

“For myself, it was important that we continue our movement for single-payer healthcare, investments in social housing, ending homelessness, workers’ rights, expanded funding for public schools, and alternatives to policing,” she said.

The Daybreak candidates must pledge to refuse contributions from  corporations, real estate interests and law enforcement associations, among others.

Daybreak PAC hopes to recruit a slate of candidates running for seats in state government focusing on  five Senate seats –Senate Districts 6, 10, 18, 36 and 40 — that will be vacant in 2022.

Daybreak has also taken note of the 28% of the state Assembly that will be vacant come 2024.

To qualify, Daybreak candidates are expected to include a variety of progressive policies in their political platforms, such as increased investment  in social housing, public schools, single-payer healthcare and a Green New Deal for California.

Most importantly, the Daybreak candidates must also pledge to refuse contributions from such groups as corporations, real estate interests and law enforcement associations, among others.

The refusal of donations from moneyed interests is a must: At the PAC launch meeting, Fielder described it as “non-negotiable.”

In return, Daybreak is promising a host of resources for candidates, including “in-depth training, logistical support, providing technology and directing volunteer power.”

Thus far, the only candidate Daybreak has publicly endorsed has been Fatima Ibqal-Zubair, a public school teacher running in the 64th Assembly District.

The PAC is backing AB 20, which would put limits on corporate contributions to campaigns; SB 467, which would move to ban fracking in California,; and AB 1400, which would establish  single-payer healthcare in the state.

Daybreak’s viability will depend on its ability to raise money, which is complicated by its small-donor strategy.

AB 20 was introduced in the Assembly in December by Alex Lee of AD-25, which includes parts of Alameda and Santa Clara counties.

Representing Daybreak, Fielder recently drafted a resolution in support of Lee’s bill in conjunction with San Francisco Supervisor Dean Preston. On April 6, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted in support of the resolution.

Daybreak also plans to help the communities hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic, and earlier had a phone banking drive to help residents of the Bayview-Hunters Point area of San Francisco aware of vaccine availability.

Daybreak’s viability will depend on its ability to raise money, which is complicated by its small-donor strategy. In this area, Fielder is a definite asset.

There was no immediate indication how these services would be financed; disclosure documents at the secretary of state’s office showed no contributions or spending have yet been reported, although the PAC says it is starting to raise money.

“Progressive change is still blocked by corporate Democrats.” — Jackie Fielder

Over the course of the 2020 cycle, her campaign accrued some $770,000 in small-dollar donations. Since its launch, Fiedler says Daybreak has already received $8,000 in monthly recurring donations, a figure that rose to at least $9,300 by the end of March.

At the PAC launch meeting, Fielder was backed up by two guest speakers — Jen Snyder and Kaylah Williams. Snyder served as campaign manager for Supervisor Dean Preston, while Williams was campaign manager for San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin. Both are members of the Democratic Socialists of America, as is Fielder herself.

But progressives believe they have a daunting political fight.

Democrats have supermajorities in both houses of the Legislature, but “progressive change is still blocked by corporate Democrats that put special interests over everyday Californians,” Fielder says.



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