California Lieutenant Governor Asks Taylor Swift To Postpone L.A. Concerts for Workers' Strike. She's Already Been to a Show.

Eleni Kounalakis wants shows canceled for hundreds of thousands of fans

Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift / Getty Images
August 3, 2023

California’s Democratic lieutenant governor, who is running to succeed Gov. Gavin Newsom (D.), told Taylor Swift she should postpone her six-night tour stop in a show of support for Los Angeles hotel workers who launched the strike over the July 4 weekend. She herself doesn't have to worry about missing a concert since she already attended one of the pop star's Bay Area shows.

Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis led a union-sponsored open letter from state Democrats urging Swift to postpone her shows. But just before advising the star to kick back her tour dates, Kounalakis posted a photo and video of herself attending a Swift show in Santa Clara, California, on July 30. Hotel workers were protesting then, too. Swift added a sixth show to the L.A. portion of her wildly popular "Eras" tour, where she is slated to perform for an estimated 420,000 fans—some of whom have paid thousands of dollars for tickets.

"Your shows make our region’s hotels a lot of money," Kounalakis and her fellow Democrats wrote on letterhead for the union Unite Here's L.A. chapter released Tuesday. "In Los Angeles, hotels are doubling and tripling what they charge because you are coming."

"Stand with hotel workers and postpone your concerts," they wrote.

It is unclear how Swift could postpone at the last minute an entire set of nearly sold-out shows. Swift's U.S. tour extends through August and her international tour is scheduled through August 2024.

Kounalakis's demands are an example of hypocrisy from state Democrats, critics say, and follow on other high-profile incidents that have angered voters, such as Newsom's decision to dine out at a five-star Napa Valley restaurant in the midst of strict COVID lockdowns. Democrats "need to shake off the belief that they operate separate and above the rest of us," said Matt Shupe, a California Republican strategist with Praetorian Public Relations.

"We knew this was troubling behavior when Governor Newsom ate indoors at the French Laundry during the height of the pandemic and it doesn’t seem like it will never, ever get back to the non-hypocritical behavior we deserve," Shupe said.

Newsom was caught maskless at a lobbyist’s birthday dinner at the exclusive French Laundry restaurant in Napa even as he had the public under the nation’s strictest pandemic lockdown orders. Newsom and other Democrats were also photographed maskless at an NFL championship game in Los Angeles when Californians were still ordered to cover their faces in public.

Kounalakis was one of more than 50 Southern California Democrats who asked Swift to postpone her shows at a powerful union's behest. Also signing the letter was Orange County's state senator Dave Min (D.), Rep. Katie Porter’s hand-picked candidate to replace her in the U.S. House of Representatives who in May was caught lying to a cop about how much he drank, according to video of his DUI arrest.

Kounalakis defended the letter in a statement to the Washington Free Beacon. "All workers deserve dignity and fair wages," she said, adding that she hopes "we can use this moment to bring attention to the hardworking men and women who are the engine of our economy."

The Los Angeles chapter of Unite Here, which organized the strike and the letter, has contributed more than $1.3 million to California Democrats since 2022.

Kounalakis is the only declared gubernatorial candidate in California's 2026 election, which is expected to be a crowded race.