Antonio Villaraigosa, one of the top Democrats running for governor, will address a group Wednesday that typically supports Republican candidates.
Tickets to see the gubernatorial candidate speak at a breakfast meeting hosted by the Fresno Chamber of Commerce’s Political Action Committee cost $40, money that supports the group’s mission of electing pro-business candidates.
“We need the right people making decisions for the community. The PAC endorses the most business-friendly candidate and raises money to get them elected. Donations to the PAC are used for candidate contributions, independent expenditures, or for the promotion of the endorsed candidates,” according to the group’s website.
The PAC has made $31,350 in political donations since 2006, according to the financial disclosure documents filed with the secretary of state’s office. Of that, all but $1,500 was donated to Republican candidates. Among the recipients were Chuck Poochigian, who received $1,000 in his unsuccessful run for attorney general in 2006 against now-Gov. Jerry Brown; then-Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin, who received $3,000 for her unsuccessful 2014 state controller bid, and state Sen. Andy Vidak, who received $6,100 over multiple election cycles.
Nathan Ahle, president and chief executive of the PAC, said that all of the major gubernatorial candidates will be invited to address the group.
Villaraigosa, the former mayor of Los Angeles, has spent a notable amount of time campaigning in the Central Valley, once a GOP stronghold that is now more politically mixed and a region where Democrats are not as rigidly liberal on economic and environmental issues as coastal and Bay Area voters. The economic recovery has also not taken hold as strongly in the Central Valley as it has in other parts of the state, an inequity frequently raised by Villaraigosa on the campaign trail.
"The mayor is taking his campaign for economic opportunity and economic equality to every corner of California," campaign spokeperson Michelle Jenny said.
Updated at 7:45 p.m.: This post was updated with a response from the Villaraigosa campaign.