Republicans gaining traction in push to turn Silicon Valley red

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

When overworked Silicon Valley innovators retreated to the Nevada desert a week ago for the annual Burning Man festival, some met an unexpected reveler.

There, among the drug-infused performance art, stood a buttoned-down policy wonk from Washington preaching small government to the Bay Area creative class.

Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, challenged left-coasters not to dismiss him as another dull D.C. politico when he marveled over the event’s ceremonial “Burn” of a giant sculpture. He took to Twitter to laud Burning Man’s “wonder of creativity and hard work.”

Creativity and hard work also describe conservatives’ efforts to make inroads with the Bay Area’s innovation economy. Republicans, after musing about the possibility for more than a decade, have finally found a footing in Silicon Valley, ingratiating themselves with tech entrepreneurs who had long eschewed politics in general, conservative politics in particular.

Democrats haven’t yet lost their advantage, but Bay Area techies are writing increasingly sizable checks to GOP candidates and causes, sometimes with great fanfare, as when Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg hosted a fundraiser at his house last year for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Google is helping bankroll some of the most conservative think tanks in Washington, including Norquist’s group. A bromance of sorts has kindled between Elon Musk and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield.


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