State Senate candidate Katherine Welch, and
her father, former GE chairman Jack Welch.
STATE SENATE | 9TH DISTRICT | Katherine Welch has a famous and wealthy father, but don’t expect him to write a check to his daughter’s upstart state Senate campaign in the East Bay.
Jack Welch, one of America’s most successful corporate titans, as chairman of General Electric for 20 years, once earned $76 million in a single year, but, for now, his daughter doesn’t expect any campaign contributions in her June primary race against fellow Democrats Nancy Skinner and Sandre Swanson.
“I’ll be honest with you. I love my dad and he loves me, and our politics couldn’t be any different,” Welch said this week. “So he has not donated, nor has any of his friends, nor do I expect they will.”
Instead, he’s supporting her emotionally. “He supports me as a dad,” says Welch, a first-time candidate for public office. “He knows I’ve been doing this stuff. He’s been watching me for five years.” Before entering the race, Welch was an statewide advocate for school children with the grassroots Educate Our State.
Welch says her parents and her own children were skeptical of her advocacy over the years. “What are you doing?” she says her kids would ask. “No one understands it when you’re going up to [Sacramento] as an advocate. But this–everybody understands,” Welch says of her candidacy for the district that includes Oakland, Berkeley, Richmond, Alameda and San Leandro.
In a 2001 profile on her father in People, Jack Welch admitted he could have been a better father. “I was too much on the critical side, on ‘Let’s get A’s’ and not enough on the cheerleading side,” he said. Katherine is the oldest of four.
Katherine Welch actually followed her father into the business world. After once interning for former New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley’s office she worked in finance for Goldman Sachs. Later, she moved to San Francisco and then across the bay to Piedmont six years ago.
Despite her father not opening his checkbook, Welch has performed well on her own as a political fundraiser. Her campaign raised more than $104,000 during the last three months of last year. In contrast, Swanson, a far more well-known political entity, received just $87,000 during the last six months of 2015. Both trail Skinner who raised $277,000 and sits on nearly $1.1 million in reserves.