Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Republicans gaining traction in push to turn Silicon Valley red

Democrats haven't lost their advantage, but Bay Area techies are writing increasingly bigger checks to the GOP - Evan Halper/LA Times

Longtime alliances between Democrats and tech have frayed on several issues.

A proposed overhaul of patent law, a priority for Silicon Valley, cruised through the GOP-controlled House this year only to be squashed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) amid pressure from trial lawyers....

The Obama administration's willingness to allow the NSA to snoop on electronic communications, exposed by former security contractor Edward Snowden, created a public relations crisis for social media firms and threatens to cost the cloud-computing industry billions of dollars in lost business.

In state houses, Democrats are championing online consumer protection efforts that expose tech companies to new liabilities. At the behest of organized labor, Democrats are pushing measures that undermine ride-sharing firms such as Uber, one of the most lucrative new businesses spawned by Silicon Valley.

"Balancing the need for innovation against entrenched special interests has become a difficult thing for the left," said Joe Lonsdale, a venture capitalist. Lonsdale, a relative political neophyte with the liberal social views typical of the Bay Area, has been donating mostly to Republicans, including hosting a fundraiser in his home for McCarthy.

"A lot of Republicans have economic views that are more in line with the way many of us here see the world," he said.