THE BLOG
11/10/2014 04:43 pm ET Updated Jan 10, 2015

WATCH: Facing Down Corporate Election Greed

Roo Reynolds/Flickr

Previously published on BillMoyers.com.

In the midst of the midterm elections and the obsession with which party would control the US Senate, there were races at the local and state level with deeper implications for the future of the country.

In the small city of Richmond, California, a slate of progressive candidates faced off against a challenge from pro-business candidates backed to the tune of more than $3 million by the energy giant Chevron. For years, Chevron has treated Richmond like a company town and its large refinery there has been a constant source of health and safety concerns.

Since 2007, Mayor Gayle McLaughlin, a Green Party leader, and her allies on the city council have faced down not only Chevron but other corporate interests like the real estate and financial industries as well. This year, Chevron fought back with an expensive barrage of negative campaign media. But on Election Day, the progressive slate triumphed, despite the roughly $250 per vote Chevron spent.

McLaughlin -- who this year was term-limited as mayor but won a city council seat -- and Harriet Blair Rowan, a college student and journalist who uncovered the Chevron money story for the news website Richmond Confidential, talk with me this week about the role unlimited sums of corporate cash have played in Richmond. We discuss the great success of the billions spent by wealthy individuals and companies in other races across the country and how to fight back, using Richmond's example as a model for future fights of organized people versus organized money.

Moyers & Company airs weekly on public television. Explore more at BillMoyers.com.