| If you were spending a few bucks in California politics, where would you put it?
by Brian Leubitz
I was recently asked by a Democratic donor where I would recommend giving money in state politics. Well, that is certainly a challenging question. Like the national Dems, the state dems have quite the bit of dysfunction.
I think there are a few different priorities, which occasionally come into conflict. First, in order to really break the deadlock in Sac, you need to get to 2/3 in each house. The absolute hard and fast anti-tax pledges from the Republicans mean that you can't really accomplish any larger goals w/o 2/3. And that goal is very doable, at least in the Senate, this year. The Assembly is less likely, but not impossible. So, if that's the goal, then there are a few races where you would want to contribute: Cathleen Galgiani in SD-05, Russ Warner in AD-40 and a number of other. You can find more swing seats at AroundTheCapitol.
The other question is about better Democrats. As you get to the end of each session, you always see good bills die because some "moderate" Democrat came up with some reason to walk out on the vote or just plain voted against it. There are more than a few examples of a Democrat that runs as somebody who won't raise your taxes, or will cut regulations, or something similarly anti-progressive that feeds into Republican talking points. That is more than a single campaign issue, more than just one race, whether that be in Santa Barbara or the Central Valley, we need to work on developing candidates that will work to get the state on the right track through progressive economic growth.
In that we are fortunate to have the party lead by a strong progressive like John Burton, and they can do some of that work. However, ultimately that has to come through training and cultivation that may or may not be the right place for the party. It is somewhat conflicted in this matter, as they represent both sides of the intraparty fight. Term limits make it all that much more difficult as you have to keep looking for new candidates.
This June there will be a measure on the ballot to at least fix that one small part, moving term limits to 12 years total. And in November there will be a number of Dem-on-Dem races where we need to ensure that a progressive wins, while also picking up those swing districts? These are somewhat competing interests, and as a donor, you have to choose your priorities?
So, any thoughts?