After almost a decade out of the spotlight, the California Correctional Peace Officers Association (CCPOA) re-emerged when they bought two television commercials for two Democrats: Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom for governor and Assemblymember Tony Thurmond for superintendent of public instruction. The commercials cost the union $1 million dollars, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Though it has remained politically active, the CCPOA flew under the radar during the last decade, compared to a previous strategy involving bold statewide campaigns. While the price of the ads isn’t high for California, it serves as a reminder that the union still has what it takes to bring attention to its issues.
The union historically aligned itself to Republicans but switched loyalties in 1998 when it donated $2 million dollars to then-candidate for governor, Gray Davis. It had a strained relationship to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger after he demanded salary concessions.
The union’s relationship with former Gov. Jerry Brown, who approved pay raises in five of the last six years, was more cordial. Estimates are that the latest contract will raise prison costs by $116 million. .
The contract expires in July 2019 and the CCPOA bet on Newsom, rather than the GOP’s John Cox. As for Thurmond, he previously supported the union while his opponent, Marshall Tuck, recently criticized the level of spending on prisons over schools.
The CCPOA has a long standing alliance with crime victims and that alliance could boost a 2020 ballot measure that’s designed to undo California’s recent expansion of parole, a possible conflict with Brown who backed the expansion. Whatever their strategies, the union will, no doubt, continue reminding the public and elected officials that the 27,000 prison officers “walk the toughest beat in the state.”