Republican Ted Gaines grovels for the Gigafactory

Tesla Motors has five Southwestern states – Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, and Texas – on the ropes. Each would love to land the company’s massive, $5 billion gigafactory for battery production. Tesla has acknowledged breaking ground on a potential site in Reno, but is keeping its options open. State politicians, economic development officials, governors and senators are falling over themselves to bring the economic development bacon, and the promise of 6,500 manufacturing jobs, home.

Enter Republican Ted Gaines of Roseville, who represents California’s 1st Senate District. He’s also running for the statewide office of Insurance Commissioner and is the legislature’s most vocal critic of what many call “Obamacare.”

On Friday, Gaines will tour Tesla’s factory in Fremont. Then he plans to show up at Tesla’s Palo Alto headquarters with a “symbolic gift” for CEO Elon Musk. He doesn’t have an appointment with Musk, who may not even be there. Musk travels extensively and also runs SpaceX.

What is the symbolic gift? An oversized check for $500 million? CEQA in a shredder? Gaines wouldn’t say: we’ll find out on Friday.

“I am doing everything that I can to communicate that California is serious, and we’re going to win,” said Gaines in an interview Thursday. “I don’t buy that Reno is the front-runner in the line. The Nevada legislature isn’t even in session. How can they cut a deal? We can put together a package that makes us competitive.”

Gaines and Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) are co-authors of SB 1309, a bill that aims to entice  Tesla to build the factory. There’s about a month left in the legislative session to get the bill, which currently just has intent language, done.

State Senator Ted Gaines

Dana Hull Dana Hull (243 Posts)

Dana Hull covers clean technology and energy policy for the San Jose Mercury News. She often writes about electric vehicles, the smart grid, the solar industry and California energy policy, from RPS goals to Gov. Jerry Brown's big dreams for distributed generation.