Newsom praises ‘extraordinary’ Elon Musk despite Tesla HQ move to Texas

California Governor Gavin Newsom is pictured speaking at a San Francisco school on Sept. 7. | Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

OAKLAND – Governor Gavin Newsom on Friday praised Elon Musk despite Tesla’s CEO announcing a day earlier that he plans to move his company’s headquarters from California to Texas, though the governor insisted California helped do the electric automaker today.

“I have respect and deep respect for that individual,” Newsom said, “but I also have deep respect and reverence for the state and what we represent and what we have done to support those investments. “

The comments highlighted Newsom’s strong relationship with Musk and the Silicon Valley letter that was substantial while also allowing the Democratic governor to hand over California’s role as an incubator of change. Newsom said he has known Musk for two decades and praised him as “one of the world’s greatest creators and entrepreneurs” who has “invested countless money in this state to create thousands and thousands of work. ”

Republicans were quick Thursday to take over Musk’s move-to-Texas plans, saying it was further evidence that California businesses are overly burdened with regulations, taxes and high living costs. This comes after Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Oracle announced in December that they were moving to Lone Star State.

Newsom dismissed the importance of Tesla’s headquarters shift, noting that Musk announced plans to boost production at a California plant and instructed commercial space flight company SpaceX to lease an office in Long Beach . The governor also argued California supported Tesla’s success, pointing to the millions of dollars California spent to provide assistance to the growing electric car industry.

“Our controlling environment helped create that company and grow that company,” Newsom said. “It took his ingenuity and entrepreneurial genius but it also took a regulatory environment to encourage it here, to preserve it.”

Elected officials in deep Democratic California have mixed ties to Musk and the company he founded. Tesla’s role as a flagship of the low-emission automobile market is a source of pride in the environmentally conscious state, and its plant in the Bay Area city of Fremont is a source of wage manufacturing jobs.

California also has a disproportionately high share of the nation’s electric vehicle market, representing 42 percent of U.S. EV registrations in 2020 despite having only about 12 percent of the population, according to federal data.

Tesla has spent more than $ 3 million lobbying the California Legislature and state regulators since 2017, records show. In the last two election cycles it has channeled more than $ 400,000 in campaign donations to California’s political action committees, and the money has spread around: In 2019-2020, the company’s money flowed into races for nearly half of the state’s legislative districts.

But California labor unions and their allies have also quarreled with Tesla about what they call unequal working conditions and efforts to suppress labor settlement. Democrats in the state Legislature have sought to tie public subsidies to stricter labor standards.

Last year, Tesla has rejected a public health order by opening the Fremont plant despite a stay-at-home order that Musk derided as “fascist.” Tesla eventually gave a deal to local officials to ease the stance, one that saw Tesla accuse its own province and threaten to leave California.

Those dynamics initiated an acronym between Musk and the elected officials. State Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), a staunch union ally who criticized Tesla’s manufacturing practices, responded to the conflict at the Fremont plant last year by tweeting “ “F * ck Elon Musk. ” Musk signaled on Thursday which contributed to his decision to move-a response that Newsom suggested was unworthy.

“I get tweets like that probably from time to time,” Newsom said, “and I’ll stay here.”

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