A call from the head of the California Democratic Party to boycott In-N-Out Burger over its $25,000 donation to the GOP, appears to have backfired rather spectacularly according to the Los Angeles Times. Take Anthony Grigore, a true-blue Democrat. But as he waited Thursday at an In-N-Out Burger in El Segundo for his meal, Grigore made it clear party loyalty would only go so far.
Just hours earlier, the head of the California Democratic Party called for a boycott of the famed burger chain after a public filing revealed that the company had recently donated $25,000 to the state’s Republican Party.
"Eating at In-N-Out is such a standard thing to do across California," Grigore told the LA Times dismissing the boycott idea as a bit silly.
On Wednesday, Journalist Gabe Schneider tweeted a filing from the burger joint showing the $25,000 donation (while failing to note the $80,000 In-N-Out has donated to a liberal PAC over two years).
Hours after Schneider's tweet, California Democratic Party chairman Eric Bauman kneejerked into action and called for a boycott, tweeting; "Et tu In-N-Out? Tens of thousands of dollars donated to the California Republican Party... it’s time to #BoycottInNOut - let Trump and his cronies support these creeps... perhaps animal style!" along with a link to a local paper.
Et tu In-N-Out? Tens of thousands of dollars donated to the California Republican Party... it’s time to #BoycottInNOut - let Trump and his cronies support these creeps... perhaps animal style!https://t.co/9zkdFaG5CJ— EricBauman (@EricBauman) August 30, 2018
At this point, Bauman went too far for some California Democrats who distanced themselves from the political dust-up between their social justice warrior leadership and the California eatery owned by an evangelical Christian family with a history of support for GOP candidates.
By the end of the day, Democrats were distancing themselves from the idea and Republicans were enjoying a political feast, with many making big lunch orders to show their support for the chain and posting photos on social media. Some were even feeding their dogs:
“We have all of our children eating In-N-Out burgers. Even my son’s German shepherd eats In-N-Out,” said state Sen. Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber, whose staff ordered 25 burgers and 50 bags of fries for lunch.
Political experts said they aren’t surprised that In-N-Out has proved hard to demonize, especially if the company’s sin was simply donating to the Republican Party.
“The stomach overrules the mind,” Jaime Regalado, emeritus professor of political science at California State University, Los Angeles. “A cheap, good-tasting burger is hard to dismiss politically.” -LA Times
Shortly after the story went viral, In-N-Out issued a statement from Executive Vice President Arnie Wensinger noting that the company had "made equal contributions to both Democratic and Republican" PAC's in 2018.
"For years, In-N-Out Burger has supported lawmakers who, regardless of political affiliation, promote policies that strengthen California and allow us to continue operating with the values of providing strong pay and great benefits for our associates," Wensinger said.
The boycott quickly turned into a free publicity stunt for republicans: GOP gubernatorial candidate John Cox posted a photo of himself in front an In-N-Out on Thursday on Twitter and declared, “There’s nothing more Californian than In-N-Out Burger.”
There’s nothing more Californian than In-N-Out Burger. Great lunch today in #Fresno. If .@GavinNewsom is nervous debating me on CA issues - maybe a friendly Double Double vs Caviar joust? pic.twitter.com/pEHqhb8jD3— JohnHCox (@TheRealJohnHCox) August 30, 2018
After Bauman's tweet went viral and made national news, Bauman referred questions to the party's communications director, John Vigna, who responded that the Bauman's tweet was "just his personal view," and that the official California Democratic Party was not involved.
“We’re not happy that In-N-Out gave the money, but we’re not calling for an official boycott,” Vigna said. “Democrats are very fired up. Chair (Bauman) is definitely giving voice to a feeling a lot of people have right now.”
Amusingly, boycotts of companies that give money to the opposition would take political partisanship to a whole new level. The SF Chronicle looked at 2018 donations to the two main California parties, to shows just what dueling, tit-for-tat boycotts could mean for businesses.
Democrats, for example, would have to avoid not only In-N-Out, but also Facebook, Target, Microsoft, Anheuser-Busch, McDonald’s and virtually every oil company. They’re just some of the many groups that have given money to the state Republican Party this year.
For Republicans, boycotting Democratic supporters would mean never using Uber, not drinking Gallo wine or Pepsi, dropping T-Mobile cellular service, refusing to have garbage hauled by Recology or to go to a Paramount Pictures movie.
Ultra-partisan fighting over who gives what to whom is something neither party wants to contemplate. If companies are forced to choose between a boycott by their customers or making political contributions, it would suddenly become much tougher for Democrats and Republicans to raise money to run their campaigns.
For Democratic Party officials, the answer was to laugh off Bauman’s hasty tweet and hope the kerfuffle goes away.
“Chair Bauman’s personal tweet reflects his belief that he shouldn’t support companies that support the Trump agenda, and that Jeff’s Gourmet Kosher Sausage Factory on West Pico Boulevard is the best All-American treat in California,” the party said.