June 2018 California Primary Analysis (IV): US Senate and House

I recently got my sample ballot for the “Statewide Direct Primary Election” on June 5, and boy, is it going to be a confusing election for people. We have two contests with enough candidates to take two pages (27 candidates for Governor, 32 for Senator, and two contests for our assembly district: one for the “short term” because the previous assemblycritter left early thanks to #metoo, and one for the “full term”, with the same candidates). There are going to be a lot of posts as I work through this. Here’s the sequence as I see it (note: links to articles not yet posted will not work or may be incomplete):

This post will cover the US House of Representatives (30th District) and the US Senate.

US House of Representatives (30th District)

Going in, I should stipulation that I like our current representative, Brad Sherman (FB). I agree with his positions, I follow what he does, and I haven’t seen anything objectionable. So, from my point of view, an opposition candidate needs to convince me why there are problems with Brad Sherman (FB), and why I should vote for him (because they are all guys) instead. This is multiplied by the way Congress works, where the power of your voice is based on your seniority. Sherman has been there multiple terms and has growing seniority. So not only must your ideas be better, your ability to work the room and convince other congresscritters must be better, because you’ll be starting at the far junior position, in what may still be the minority party. In other words, ideas aren’t enough.

Candidates

[✗] Jon Pelzer (D)

Jon Pelzer (FB) (D) is an enigma. He is a clear Bernie-crat from his endorsement from the “Feel the Bern” LA club and his discuss of a grassroots effort. He empahsizes the fact that he wants to be free of corporate influence and PAC money. Yet other than saying he is a long-time political activist, going back to Mario Cuomo in New York in 1982, there’s no information on this guy. No education. No information on what he does for income. Voters Edge shows he has a BS in Political Science and a JD from Colgate University. As for work, he owns “Jon Pelzer Inc”, which has two employees. There’s no other information on the web that I could find. So for someone that wants to be free from corporate influence — which requires transparency — I know nothing about him. That does not convince me he is a better candidate than Brad Sherman.

I read through his issues page, and I agree with them all. But then again, the read like a typical Democratic platform, and capture what I believe Sherman represents. He failed to build the case of how he differs from Sherman, and why I should give up Sherman’s seniority and connections in favor of him.

First rule of the marketplace: Make me understand why I want to buy what you’re selling. He failed at that.

[✗] Raji Rab (D)

Raji Rab (FB) (D) does not know how to design a web page, or to hire a web page designer. Just look. Two dense white blocks of boldfaced text, justified, that is difficult to read. Strike one for poor web design.

But as I’ve said, to earn my vote you need to convince me you’re better than the incumbent, who I like. This fellow’s experience for office is: “seasoned aviator, an educator and an entrepreneur”. To be more precise, “I got my commercial pilot license from Laverne California, owned a flight school, an airline and operated a computer infrastructure facility.” Not quite the experience for the halls of Washington. I’ve done some googling, and I can’t find his educational experience anywhere. He did run for this office in 2018, and came in 4th.

In terms of his issues, most parallel typical Democratic positions. Remember what I said about needing to do Sherman one better. He doesn’t do that. More significantly, though, he seems to confuse the function of Congress with the functions of local government (under “Relief Against Harsh Penalties”, he writes “I will work to remove harsh and unconstitutional penalties, undue heavy traffic and parking fines”) and the state government (where he proves he doesn’t understand where California as a state gets all its water, when he writes “Colorado River reserves are running low and California needs the same amount of water from the Colorado River, which it always needs, being more than the river can offer. The water rights need resetting…”).

He failed to convince me.

[✗] Mark S. Reed (R)

Mark S. Reed (FB) (R) is the most viable candidate against Brad Sherman, at least in terms of votes. So maybe he’s a lawyer who will know how to work the halls of Congress, or have some special magic experience. Nope. His experience is “After graduation from El Camino Real High School in 1975, Reed studied Architectural Drafting at Pierce Jr. College from 1976-1978. Reed, age 57, is a successful actor, small businessman, rancher and an advocate for constitutional government as specified by our Founding Fathers. After working in management positions for several years, he bought his first company at age 26 and opened a small retail store. He sold both and bought out his second company at age 32.  He has sat on the board of directors of several companies, chaired many national committees and currently sits on the board of directors of the CAB at KCET.” He’s not that there in the experience or background market.

Perhaps his issues will convince me that Sherman is bad? He starts by pandering to the Jewish vote with a big “We Support Israel” banner on his page. His issue page has a special section on Israel, which appears to be condemning Obama’s support for Israel and Sherman’s support of Obama. This plays to the Conservative and Orthodox Jews; it fails with the Reform Jews who liked how Obama was working for broader piece in the region. He’s against Obamacare completely, as opposed to tweaking it to make it work. He’s in strong favor of gun ownership. His attitude on energy can be summed in one sentence: “In order to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, we need to abolish the Department of Energy, and drill in this country where we can.” He supports school vouchers, which allows public money to go to religious schools. In short, his values are not my values, and he does not get my vote.

[✓] Brad Sherman (D) (Inc)

Brad Sherman (FB) (D) (Inc) has served in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1997, meaning he has seniority, and through seniority, wields power. He is a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and serves as the senior Democrat on the Subcommittee on Asia. He is also a senior member of the Financial Services Committee. During his tenure in Congress, Sherman has developed a reputation as a strong advocate for fiscal responsibility, a balanced budget, federal aid to education, the interests of working families, strong environmental standards, the protection of Social Security and Medicare, and policies to expand U.S. exports. Before joining Congress, he served on the California State Board of Equalization from 1991 to 1996. He was Chairman of the Board from 1991 to 1995. Before that, Sherman was on staff at one of the nations’ big-four CPA firms. Sherman is a Tax Law Specialist and a CPA. He received a Bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, where he graduated Summa Cum Laude. Sherman was also an accounting tutor during his time at UCLA. Later he received his law degree from Harvard, where he graduated Magna Cum Laude. Note how none of the other candidates provided this level of detail on their backgrounds, nor have this extensive of a background.

In terms of issues, I’ve been following Sherman for years, and have agreed with most of the time. I did favor Howard Berman when Sherman and Berman’s districts were combined, but I’ve been pleased to become a Sherman constituent.

In short, I like what Sherman has done, and no one has convinced me that another candidate is better.

Conclusion

This one is clear: I’m sticking with Brad Sherman (FB) (D) (Inc).

US Senate

The situation with the US Senate is very similar to the House: In general, I happen to like Dianne Feinstein and I agree with most of her positions. She certainly stands up for the traditional progressive views (and I’m an old-school Humphrey-ite). More importantly, she’s been in the Senate for a long time. The Senate, as an institution, is one where power is based on seniority. She has reached the point where she has some seniority. This would be less of a worry if California’s other senator had someone equal seniority, but Kamala Harris was recently elected and is at the bottom of the seniority pool. There’s one additional factor: She’s a woman, and it is vitally important that the Senate reflect the makeup of America — and that means every woman in the Senate is important to combat the implicit male privilege in our society. She’s also Jewish, meaning that my religious viewpoint is represented in the Senate — vitally important in a nation where the forces of Christianty are pushing harder against us.

What this means is that any candidate for Senate must convince me not only that they have significantly better positions on issues than Feinstein, but that they have the ability to make up for the loss of her seniority through their power of persuasion, and that they will preserve the diversity of the Senate. They may need to make the case that there are significant character flaws in Feinstein that overcome the strengths I’ve noted. Let’s see if any of the 31 Flavors of Challenger can do it.

For sake of discussion, I’ve divided the candidates into three tiers, Chocolate and Vanilla … no wait … I’ve divided the candidates into three tiers. Tier 1 are the truly viable candidates: they have the requisite skills and experience for the position. Tier 2 are those candidates who may have the chops but are green: they need a bit more time in their current elected office to grow and build their networks. Tier 2 also includes those candidates who should consider other elected office as part of their seasoning: they have the paper chops, but need to get some elected office experience before they try for the Senate. Tier 3 are the rest: the candidates, the great unwashed kooks and nuts for which California is known.

Tier 1 Candidates

[✓] Kevin de Leon (D)

Kevin de Leon (FB) (D) is the current representative for SD24 (State Senate District 24) s. He was elected to the State Assembly in 2006, to the State Senate in 2010, and elected President Pro Tem of the Senate in 2014. He attended U.C. Santa Barbara and graduated from Pitzer College at the Claremont Colleges with honors. He is a Rodel Fellow at the Aspen Institute and a guest lecturer at the University of Southern California. He’s been active with the California Teachers Association and the National Education Association. He built up an impressive track record in the State Senate, including doing a lot to support SB1. His state senate bio has a lot of detail on his legislative accomplishments. It looks to have even more information than his campaign bio, but it does have fewer pictures. de Leon clearly has the experience for the position; if Feinstein had opted to retire, he would be an almost ideal candidate, bringing latinx representation to the Senate.

It is in articulating his issues that de Leon falls down. He has four issues on his front page,  and no additional issues pages on his sites. On those four issues, he takes positions similar to Feinstein’s. He doesn’t say what he would do to advance those issues in an environment where he would have to build a coalition — likely cross party — to get sufficient Congressional support, and how he would convince a President who is hostile to California. From de Leon, I need a better understanding of his positions, how they differ from and are better than those of Feinstein, and what are his skills that will enable him to move them forward in the current environment in Washington DC.

He hasn’t convinced me yet. Still, for those who want to protest Feinstein, he does appear to be a viable option.

[✓] Dianne Feinstein (D) (Inc)

Dianne Feinstein (FB) (D) (Inc) is running for her sixth term in the US Senate, which means she has good seniority, plum committee positions, and is set up to be a significant voice when the Democrats regain control (hopefully in November). Her Senate accomplishments are detailed here, including a cybersecurity bill. She is the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, the first woman to chair the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and on the Senate Rules and Administration Committee. In addition to her committee assignments, Senator Feinstein is co-chairman of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, co-chairman of the Senate Cancer Coalition and co-chairman of the Senate Women’s Caucus on Burma. She is also a member of the Anti-Meth Caucus, the Congressional Dairy Caucus and the Congressional Former Mayors Caucus. She has served as a member of the Aspen Strategy Group since 1997. Her main drawback is that she’s 84 — young for the Senate, perhaps, but it does raise questions about whether a younger Senator could do more for the state. Many hoped she would retire this year (and I would have supported that), but I think she feels (and I agree) that she will be more effective in fighting Donald Trump with her seniority.

I agree with her positions on the issues, which seem congruent with the Democratic Party (and with what de Leon espoused). With the right administration, she has the seniority to bring them off.

Unless I find someone significantly stronger, I’m supporting Feinstein.

Tier 2 Candidates

[✗] Adrienne Nicole Edwards (D)

Adrienne Nicole Edwards (FB) (D), per Ballotpedia, has worked as a housing counselor and as deputy operations director for presidential campaigns. She has also served as vice chairman on the HDT Community Development Foundation board. She unsuccessfully ran to represent California’s 34th Congressional District in 2014, 2018, and 2017. I note “per Ballotpedia” because her campaign webpage has no information about her; in particular, it does not give her educational background, but does note that “she was fortunate enough to earn a scholarship to a Historically Black College and University”. This connected with an article from the Greenwood SC Index-Journal noting that: “Adrienne Nicole Edwards graduated Cum Laude from Spelman College in Atlanta with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Art History. She has been awarded The Henry Luce Foundation Scholarship for $40,000 to Seton-Hall University in South Orange, N.J. for her Masters of Arts degree in Art Administration.” She has good motivation for running for the Senate: previous budget advisors have gone on to the LA City Council.

When you look at her positions on the issues, she’s got lots of good progressive ideas I agree with. Many of her ideas deserve implementation at the city, county, or state level; it will be hard to support them as Federal initiatives.

I don’t think she has the chops, given her background and experience, to either unseat Feinstein or be as successful as Feinstein. However, she impresses me. I think she should continue to run for office, but start out smaller. She’s tried at the congressional level against a well-funded opponent (the current Atty General candidate) who had name recognition. She should instead do what other budget advocates have done: leverage her knowledge of the city into a city council or elected department executive position, or go for the state assembly. After a term or two of seasoning, she can then move on to larger things.

[✓] Pat Harris (D)

Pat Harris (FB) (D) is characterized as the “marijuana candidate”. Pat graduated from the University of Arkansas where he was awarded the J. William Fulbright Award as the outstanding history student.  He graduated Phi Beta Kappa and was a Rhodes Scholar finalist in the state of Arkansas.  In 1993, he graduated with a law degree from the University of Michigan Law School in Ann Arbor, Michigan. For the past 23 years, Pat has practiced law, first in Tennessee as a public defender, later working in private practice as a criminal defense attorney, and most recently as a civil rights attorney. Pat has lived in California for over 20 years. He doesn’t appear to elected experience.

According to his webpage, he believes it is time to reform the Democratic party back to what it used to be – a party that represents the voiceless – the working people of America. To achieve that, he believes it’s time for a truly progressive leader who is ready to not only fight the Trump agenda but can set a strong  vision for California to act as a blueprint for the rest of the country. His vision includes passing legislation that will provide Medicare for All, tuition-free college, real immigration reform, criminal justice reform and a transition to a green economy run on 100% renewables. He believes in addressing California’s most pressing issues through building more affordable housing to address homelessness, providing student debt relief, improving public education, upgrading our crumbling infrastructure with increased public works spending, implementing paid parental leave for all working men and women, and supporting common-sense gun safety legislation.

Unlike a lot of other candidates, he details where he disagrees with Diane Feinstein and how he is better. He makes some really good arguments.

I think he’s got a reasonable background, but is a little light on elected experience. He has good positions on issues and makes a good argument of why to unseat Dianne Feinstein. I disagree with some points — most notably, making compromises and reaching across the aisle. I’d love to see this guy run for City Attorney or Attorney General, and then step up to Senate like Kamala Harris did. I’m not going to rule him out.

[✗] Alison Hartson (D)

Alison Hartson (FB) (D) is part of a faction called Justice Democrats. Their mission is representing people, not corporations. They want to get rid of corporate donations and corporate control. A noble cause. Hartson is their candidate in California. For ten years she served as a public high school teacher in the working-class community of Garden Grove, CA. She begin volunteering for Wolf-PAC, an organization dedicated to ending political corruption, eventually becoming National Director. I couldn’t find any information on her educational background.

Reviewing her priorities, she seems to have strong progressive credentials and great goals.

I’m not sure I can support Hartson, but I like her energy and would like to see her go a bit further. US Senate, for a first campaign, may be a reach too far. But I’d like her to start on an upward political path, and so I’m at least moving her out of Tier 3.

[✓] David Hildebrand (D)

David Hildebrand (FB) (D) classifies himself as a Democratic Socialist. While that’s not quite socialism, it is a bit further to the left end of the spectrum than the rest of the Democratic party. Unfortunatly, I’ve seen far too many Berniecrats fall into this area and be passionate about it, which is why they’ve created such trouble for the Democratic party. Hildebrand graduated from CSU Sacramento, where he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Government. He volunteered for Bernie Sander’s 2018 presidential campaign, and eventually became the Staging Location Director for California’s 6th Congressional District. David has worked as a Legislative Analyst for the State of California for over 6 years. He currently lives in Sacramento.

Reading through all the sub-pages from his issues page, I see that I actually agree with all of them. He seems to have good progressive ideas and wants to move things in the correct direction. The question would be: Does he have the chops to do it as a junior senator. I’m not sure he does. Still, for those who want a protest vote against Feinstein, he might not be a bad choice (especially if we didn’t have “Top Two”).

[✗] Tom Palzer (R)

Tom Palzer (FB) (R) advertises himself as a firm Believer in Border Security, Women’s Rights, Pro-Life, the Second Amendment, and much more. He is also the chair of the Committee to Repeal the Top Two. He received his education at Illinois State University, University of Illinois – Chicago, and Governor State University, graduating with a Masters degree in Urban and Regional Planning in 1977. Tom worked as City Planner for the City of Kankakee, Illinois, (1979 – 1986), and was appointed Executive Director of Planning for the Kankakee County Planning Commission in 1986 (1986 – 1997). From 2000 to 2008, Tom serve as Deputy Director for Operations with the State of Illinois: Chicago Area Transportation Study (CATS) responsible for consolidating the transportation plans for the City of Chicago, Cook County, six suburban counties and 234 municipalities.

His positions are congruent with where the Republican party is today under Trump. He opposes sanctuary cities. He wants to seal the borders. He supports the police without question. He wants to revise the tax code, renegotiate treaties, and remove regulations. He espouses “America First”. You can read more of his issues here. They are where I see Republicans today. They aren’t my values. YMMV.

Based on his issues, I can’t support this guy. He has experience working with government, but he can use some elected experience. Even though I disagree with his values, I think he should run for local or assembly offices first, at least in those areas where his views are mainstream (there are portions of California like that).

Tier 3 Candidates

[✗] Arun K. Bhumitra (R)

Arun K. Bhumitra (FB) (R) has a horrible campaign webpage. The bulk of the page are photoop selfies with famous politicians or groups, implying that they support him (when it could equally be “let me take a picture with the clown so that he goes away. Far away.”) Photo ops say nothing about alignment of values. His experience is listed as “Building ships at Bombay Marine Engineering; Building planes at Northrop Grumman; Electronics manufacturing at Databit; Pharmaceutical packaging at Perry Industries; Software, Wireless phones  development and distribution at Arjay Telecom.” None of that is experience that is relevant in the US Senate. I could not find any other details online about his experience or education.

His campaign front page has a long list of priorities, but no details on specific legislative ideas to achieve them. What’s odd about these is that none are particularly Republican sounding, yet he stated his party preference as Republican. Was this just to get votes from those few Republicans in California?

We have a candidate of unclear background, with no specifics on how they will achieve their goals. That’s not enough to improve on Feinstein.

[✗] James P. Bradley (R)

James P. Bradley (FB) (R), not to be confused with the UCLA Surgeon of the same name, is (according to his website) an ” international leader with 30 plus years’ experience in senior management roles for technology and service entities within the healthcare, insurance”. He has “Extensive experience within governmental and commercial programs in evaluation and design of normalization design to meet market demands.” Can anyone tell me what that means?  Ballotpedia cuts through the BS: “Bradley received his MBA in financial management and international business from National University. His professional experience includes serving as a chief financial officer and chief operating officer, beginning in 2015. Bradley also served in the United States Coast Guard from 1981-1986.” For those unfamiliar with NU, is it one of those non-profits with lots of locations. Voters Edge shows that he has a Predictive Analytics Certification from UC Irvine. Translation: No legislative experience, no legal experience, noting that might translate well into something useful in the Senate.

His platform starts out by saying he is a “VETERAN AMERICA FIRST PATRIOT PLATFORM CONSERVATIVE CONSTITUTIONALIST”. Yes, all caps. But note the whistles in the wording: Veteran, America First, Patriot, Constitutionalist”. He is pro-NRA, wants to build the wall, opposes sanctuary cities, is against “activist judges” (another whistle), pro-school choice, wants more restrictive voter IDs (which leads to defranchisement), pro life, pro Christian influence in politics, wants to repeal Obamacare, wants to investigate the “deep state”, … you get the idea. This fellow has boarded the Trump Truck. Given my disagreements with Trump and his cohort on policies, I cannot support this fellow.

[✗] John “Jack” Crew (R)

John “Jack” Crew (R) does not appear to have a campaign webpage nor a Facebook page. According to Voters Edge, he’s a bus driver for both Nevada City and Forest Lake Christian School in Auburn CA. His education is mostly certificate based: U.S. Army Wheeled Vehicle Operator School, U.S. Army Ordnance Officer Basic Course, Pennsylvania Army National Guard Officer Candidate School, U.S. Navy Storekeeper Class “A” School. Translation: In today’s day and age, he lacks qualifications to be an effective senator.

In terms of positions, again we have to depend on Voter’s Edge, which notes his top three priorities are: (1) restoration of “God-given right to life for all human beings from conception until natural death”; (2) defense of “Constitutionally guaranteed rights that are under attack, including free speech, liberty of conscience, and right to bear arms”; and (3) support for a “balanced budget amendment, restore fiscal accountability, foster strong economic opportunities through deregulation”. So he’s pro-life and anti-abortion, although it is unclear where he stands on the after-birth angle (i.e., what quality of life until natural death — will he just let someone starve or be sick if they are poor so natural death is hastened). He’s pro-NRA and guns. That’s the bad side. He supports a balanced budget, so it is unclear whether he agrees with the budget priorities of the Trump administration, and what he would do to bring in a balanced budget. It is also unclear his attitude on the Federal Debt, and what he believes in an acceptable debt level, if any.

In any case, the fellow doesn’t appear to be running a campaign, has no experience, and isn’t articulating his positions. I can’t support such a candidate.

[✗] Erin Cruz (R)

Erin Cruz (FB) (R) provides no bio on her campaign page, but she’s not hard to find. She’s a strongly pro-Trump author (Revolution America) . Her Amazon biography states “Erin Cruz is most recently known and recognized for her commentary, strategy, and analysis of multiple areas, with focus on conservative politics. Her political leanings are freedom based. She is a constitutional conservative with a strong dose of sobering libertarian leanings. Erin’s professional background covers, from the ground up, all areas of small and large business operations and administration in the private sector, as well as a solid stretch in academia covering safety and facilities management, business administration, accounting, payroll, personnel management, specialized and international human resources, domestic and international relations, with her favorite area of focus being domestic and international policy analysis and interpretation.” She’s the host of the Erin Cruz Show on iHeartMedia, as well as a number of political and non-political podcasts. As she writes, her background is all over the place, with loads of political commentary but no seeming political experience.  Her linked in bio (an interesting read) notes she is self-educated but somehow has an MBA, and has been an office manager, executive assistant, and personnel manager. Translation: She has learned how to market herself and talks alot, but has no depth of education or experience. Just like the President she supports.

In terms of her positions, I go back to her campaign page. Her positions use a lot of whistles and Trumpisms, and I know loads of folks that would just eat this stuff up. She’s “a Tea Party Republican and Constitutional Conservative”.  She believes “The Founding Fathers had it right, the Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution, and Bill of Rights secure our unalienable rights as given by God.” Her goal is “America First, as put forth by the President of the United States, and grounded in the Founder’s vision as outlined in the United States Constitution.” She wants to end DACA and build the border wall. She “will vote against any gun measure which  restrains law abiding citizens from legally procuring or owning  firearms”. She wants to end “piggy backing of Legislation and pork”. It sounds like she wants some form of CHIP, but wants it to be at the state-funded level.

As for her opinion on media and journalism, she writes, “Fake news is real get all of your info on my platform right here and listen to my radio show archives to learn about my stances. If you have questions, read our FAQ.” Perfect for the Trump world. She has a few country Republican party and the American Independent party endorsement. The American Independent Party is a far-right party that once endorsed George Wallace and had Lester Maddox as a candidate. Read into that what you will.

Suffice it to say that even if she had experience, her values are not my values. Unfortunately, I know far too many that would eat up what she is saying like so many Pringles Potato Chips or McDonalds French Fries. More filling, no nutrition. She goes from the level of bad candidate to a dangerous one, and unfortunately, some people want just that as their form of protest.

[✗] Roque “Rocky” de la Fuente (R)

I’m not sure what to make of Roque “Rocky” de la Fuente (FB) (R). He’s running for the senate in California, at the same time he’s running for the senate in Florida, he ran for Mayor of New York City in 2017, and he ran for President in 2018 on the Reform Party and American Delta Party tickets. He evidently plans to run for President in the 2020 campaign as a Democrat. According to Wikipedia, he’s owned a string of car dealerships (so yes, he is a used car salesman), and has operated currency exchange locations. In 2004, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation issued an order barring De La Fuente from participating in an FDIC-insured institution. De La Fuente appealed and the 9th Circuit reversed half the order and advised the FDIC to reconsider its sentence, stating that “De La Fuente’s use of FIB as his personal piggy bank was in shocking disregard of sound banking practices and the law to the detriment of depositors, shareholders, and the public.  Nevertheless, we remand this matter to the Board for it to consider, in light of this disposition, whether this extraordinary sanction remains deserved.” Wikipedia also highlights some interesting financial oddities in his NYC Mayoral Campaign. In terms of education, his bio notes that he earned “a bachelor’s degree in Physics and Mathematics from Instituto Patria and graduated Magna Cum Laude. He then studied Business Administration / Accounting at Anáhuac University and the University of San Diego.” Although he’s running as a Republican, he’s been an at-large delegate at the DNC, and has supported Governor Jerry Brown, former Governor Gray Davis and former Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante.

When you look at his issues, you have to wonder why he stated the party preference as Republican, other than the Democratic side was too crowded. He’s pro-choice, He wouldn’t be opposed to increasing taxes if needed. He supports alternative solutions for non-violent offenders. He sees a place for intelligent use of federal spending and tax incentives to enhance economic development. He supports reasonable gun control legislation that provides a greater level of safety for the general public without violating the fundamental right to bear arms. He does not support repealing the Affordable Care Act (and the use of that terminology, vs. “Obamacare”, is telling).  He supports comprehensive immigration reform that recognizes undocumented workers to be assets rather than liabilities. He supports a broad interpretation of marriage, that two adults should be able to choose who and how they love, and they should be able to do so without judgment. I’ve heard Republicans complain about RINOs, but this guy is clearly one. I agree with his issues statements, and I”m Democratic. This guys is too — it is hard to believe his party preference.

If there’s one impression I get researching this fellow, it is “opportunistic car salesman”. He wants to get into office — any elected office — for some reason. He will say and do what is necesssary, in a given environment, to do that. But he just doesn’t have the background, and his campaigns do not inspire my confidence. Even more, I can’t see him being a more effective senator than Feinstein.

[✗] Colleen Shea Fernald (None)

Colleen Shea Fernald (FB) (None) calls herself “California’s Constitutional Crisis Resolver”. Her campaign webpage has an “about” page, but all that’s there is a pledge, no bio. She ran for Sonoma County Board of Supervisors in 2008, Sebastapol City Council in 2010, as a Democratic candidate for Senate in 2012, and the Santa Rosa City Council in 2014.  Her interest in politics began in 2001, when she joined the Sustainable Sebastopol Salon, and began attending City Council meetings. From there, she became Founder/Coordinator of the Sebastopol Sustainability Conference & Festival, which took place in 2002 and 2003. She’s done lots of non-profit and community work. I couldn’t find any statements on her educational background.

Her main focus is peace: she wants a cease fire for all; and end to all US strike-first “wars” of choice, together with a recession of all war powers given without a declaration of war by Congress. She wants to end the death penalty, and ensure that everyone gets equal rights & justice. In terms of environmental issues, this is what she writes (and I’m putting this literally, because it raises a bunch of blue flags: “Ending: nuclear weapons; GeoEngineering/Weather Modification. Replacing nuclear power with renewable. Removing toxic: food, fuels, & products for living and working. Require labeling for all GMO products. Reducing: our full pollution+ carbon footprint, and exposure to EMF & RF, and other harmful emissions.” I say blue flags because these are kook-factors flags, but not right-wing ones. But they are tin-hat none the less. She also has a whole page on stopping the militarization of space.

She strikes me as not having the chops for the US Senate, let alone the ability to beat Feinstein at her game. Her ideas are too offbeat, although she might get on a city council one day and begin to learn reality.

[✗] Tim Gildersleeve (None)

Tim Gildersleeve (FB) (None) bills himself as an “Alternative Voice for America”, and has a cross on his front page. He’s currently a paratransit operator. The graduated from De Anza College with an A.A. degree in Computer Information Systems in 1995, followed by a B.S. degree in Business (Management Information Systems in 2002 from San Jose State University. In terms of political parties, well, here’s what he writes: “I have issues with both the Democratic party and the Republican party. With the Democrats, I can agree with many issues, but due to an element that seems hostile to Christendom I have parted ways with this party. The Democrats also tend to favor the secular humanist philosophy which I oppose. I believe that the Republican party has better business solutions than the Democratic party but can tend to cater to the wealthier segment of the population. With the philosophy of less government and cutting expenses the Republican party offers no alternatives to the more vulnerable of our society but to “cut them off.” If I were to declare myself a political party I would deem myself a Christocrat (with the definition of this being of recognizing the resurrected King Jesus Christ as rightful ruler of planet Earth).” Those who know me know how this raises issues with my core values. He does not, luckily, that as a U.S. Senator, he is under obligation to implement the Constitution of The United States. However, like anyone, if on a personal basis he is asked to do something unethical or wrong he has the right to refuse the task. One wonders how he might vote on legislation that violated his personal worldview but was otherwise constitutional?

He has an interesting view of our national and moral decline. As his views concern me, I started with his view on social issues. He is pro-life, but recognizes others have different views. He doesn’t support building a wall, but thinks we should improve the economic situtations in countries to help the people stay there (a reasonable notion). He’s pro-death penalty. He’s in favor of the traditional view of marriage, but doesn’t think we need to legislate that. He seems muddled on vaccinations. So far — not as creepy as he could have been. He does believe in “the universal right of all U.S. citizens (if they so desire) in the United States the right to clothing, collective bargaining as workers (if they so choose), education, food, housing, medical care, transportation, and work.” Those are just some of his issues. His website is a pain to navigate in this area, but is interesting reading.

After reading this guy, he’s not as much of a religious kook as I originally thought — and that’s a good thing. He’s religious, but is generally open to other people having other views, and not legislating religious views. I don’t think he has the background to run for Senate or the skills at this point for the halls of Washington, but he might consider exploring running for city council or even state assembly. I’m not going to move him up to Tier 3 simply because of his background, but encourage him to learn a bit more about politics and law, and keep trying.

[✗] Michael Fahmy Girgis (None)

Michael Fahmy Girgis (FB) (None) does not appear to have a campaign website. On his Facebook page, he says that he is a Real Estate Broker with many degrees in sales, marketing, real estate, and economics. He was born in Egypt, and came to the US in the 1960s to escape the violence in Egypt. He was raised as a Christian. He is a paralegal.

I can’t seem to find any formal statements of his positions on the issues.

From his Facebook page, he strikes me as a family man with good intentions, but not a strong background or any experience in running a national campaign. As he seems to live out in Norwalk, I suggest that he start smaller: learn to campaign for city council or other elected position that could build on his skills. US Senator is too far a reach at the present time. First and foremost, he needs to learn that, in this day and age, he must have a campaign webpage that details his background and his positions on the issues, and ideally, something to convince me why he is better for this position than any other candidate.

[✗] Rash Bihari Gosh (None)

Rash Bihari Gosh (None) appears to fall into the category of someone of running because of a grudge when he writes that he “has a bone to pick with corruption in California at almost every level of government after becoming a victim of a penny-ante city of Berkeley official who caused Dr. Ghosh to lose his home of 17 years, displacing his tenants, his non-profit and the temple activity center. He became one of the nation’s worst victim of elder abuse and gross injustice.” His website is “audacity of hope”, which also gives a sense of his attitude. This is not the way to win voters.

He’s an experienced environmental scientist who puts up his background as a gigantic image file. He ran the non-profit International Institute of Bengal and Himalayan Basins, which seems not only to be an outlet for his environmental research but the source of his dispute with the city of Berkeley. He believes in no foreign wars for oil. He claims to be a dedicated civil rights activist, which he defines as fighting the California EPA and his local City government for discrimination, systemic racism, hate crimes, and elder abuse.

His views on the issues are on the front page of his campaign site. Notable positions are “No war unless we are physically attack”, working to build water infrastructure, advanced biomedical research, coverage for pre-existing conditions, lots of concern about replenishment of aquifers, and funding of  a program to use our advance science and technology to provide services that developing countries need most . He has some novel ideas, such as “Laser Perimeter Security System to reduce the cost of monitoring the border between USA and Mexico” and “Complete reform of Judiciary system and form  a Judiciary Branch of Government and an expanded Grand Jury system to chase down corruption and eliminate abuse of power, all separate from the Executive Branch”. But one gets the overall impression, reading through his issues, that they are shaped by his long-standing grudge, and he doesn’t have an understanding of the broad issues as would be required for a US Senator.

I don’t think he has the background to unseat Feinstein, nor does he have the right stance on issues.

[⛔] Don J. Grundmann (None)

Don J. Grundmann (FB) (None) has a website that has me going “Oh hell no”. His front page has images and worries about transsexuals recruiting our children, of black lynchings, about the degeneration of masculinity. He equates the Federal Reserve with the American Mafia. He says climate change is a total lie. He wants to ban all homosexual marriage and is 100% pro-life (no abortion, never). He makes references to the “New World Order” and “Globalism”, which is code for antisemitism. He wants to stop all immigration. He wants to eliminate all income taxes and outlaw all vaccinations. His is a hate site, pure and simple, and the Advocate notes how he even got the state of California to publish his hate.

No, hell no. I don’t even need to look into his background.

[✗] Jason M. Hanania (None)

Jason M. Hanania (FB) (None) calls himself a “technodemocratic” candidate. This means, according to his website, “A technodemocratic candidate preferably has no political party affiliation, does not accept campaign donations, and (if elected) agrees to use a decentralized Evoting Service.” He has an interesting background: BSME from UCSB College of Engineering in 1999; JD University of San Diego in 2002; became a Patent Attorney in 2003; worked for the FBI as an intelligence analysis from 2004 to 2006; and currently is an independent contractor for legal matters requiring engineering consulting.  He founded eVoteAmerica, which postulates an interesting voting system.

However, other than his eVoteAmerica manifesto and goals of a technodemocracy, he makes no statements of his issues, or what he would do in the Senate, or what policy objectives he wants to achieve. There is no notion of why, as a political novice, he should replace Feinstein. No “better ideas”, no discussion of how he would fight the Trump manifesto and destruction.

He’s not ready for prime time.

[✗] Jerry Joseph Laws (R)

Jerry Joseph Laws (R) does not appear to have a campaign website or a Facebook page. From what I could find, Laws unsuccessfully sought election to the U.S. Senate from California as a Republican candidate in 2018. He also unsuccessfully ran as a Republican candidate for District 33 of the California State Assembly in 2014. He lives in the Victor Valley, and there’s where I found a bit more information in their local paper from his run in 2018:  He is “a strict “Constitutionalist,” and believes in “simple tax reform, maintaining a sound currency, protecting the Bill of Rights and securing the borders.” An admirer of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and President Ronald Reagan, Laws’ platform stays close to the conservative blueprint: staunch protection of gun rights; limited government; and ripping up the Affordable Care Act.

If I need to go back to 2018 to find his positions, I can’t take his candidacy seriously. Next.

[⛔] Patrick Little (R)

Patrick Little (R). I cannot bring myself to link to this guys website (I’ve linked to an article on him), but I must because filth must be aired to be smelled, if you must go, it is littlerevolutiondotus (dot) wordpress (dot) com and his supposed website is littlerevolution (dot) us . I hope that if you smell it, you want to clean it up. This guy has described himself as a White Nationalist. His about page says, “I have been censored off from social media after trying to start a discussion about the jewish supremacist control of many critical institutions of the United States and her government.” His homepage refers to GoyTalk. The San Diego Union Tribune notes that “All over his social media and in interviews, Little has expressed anti-Semitic views. He has denied the Holocaust and he told Newsweek that he sees Adolf Hitler as “the second coming of Christ.” Little has also called on for the U.S. to become “free from Jews.””. This guy is so bad that the GOP convention kicked him out and does not want to have anything to do with him. He’s been endorsed by David Duke. His response to the removal? “The Republican Party of California is nothing but Zionist stooges”. The Jewish News of Northern California reported that “He adds a few more contemporary charges, such as that President Donald Trump is being held hostage by Jews and that media organizations including Fox News are mouthpieces for Israel. He says one of his major goals as a senator from California would be to reroute all U.S. aid now going to Israel to Hezbollah, and make it a crime — punishable by the death penalty — if any politician ever suggests aid be restored to Israel.”

This candidate is a Hell to the No candidate, a candidate who not only must be voted against, but who must be protested and repudiated. The values he professes are profoundly un-American, even from a traditional Conservative point of view. He is someone whom I will go so far as to say: If you support this fellow in any way, feel free to remove yourself from any association with me.

Now, excuse me while I go take a shower. I have never run across this level of filth doing a ballot analysis before.

🚿🚿🚿🛁🛁🛁

[✗] David Moore (None)

David Moore (None) is the candidate for the Socialist Equality Party. He is a special education teacher in Oakland. He grew up in a farming family in Ventura County. As a contributor to the World Socialist Web Site he has written extensively on the social crisis and working class struggles. Need I go on?

The party with which he is affiliated claims it is in solidarity with and accepts the political authority of the International Committee of the Fourth International, the World Party of Socialist Revolution founded by Leon Trotsky in 1938. The principles of the SEP incorporate the essential experiences of the revolutionary upheavals of the twentieth century and the corresponding struggle waged by Marxists for the program of world socialist revolution. If we’re upset about the socialists in Russia interfering with our election in 2018, why would we want a candidate that has essentially pledged loyality to Socialist Revolution? No. No. No.

You can go to their webpage if you care to see their platform. This is yet another drawback of our “Top Two” primary: Kooks like these — from parties that can’t even muster sufficient votes to qualify as parties in California — get to be on the ballot. Ugh.

[✗] Kevin Mottus (R)

Kevin Mottus (R) has one main issue on the front page of his campaign website: EMF. Get out those tin-foil hats folks, we have another. His page boldly states “Wireless radiation (RE-EMF) has been proven harmful to humans and the environment” (well, he uses initial caps on everything). He wants a moratorium on all use of 5G technology. Did they tilt the country and all the kooks rolled west? How does this make us look to the rest of the nation?

I read his issues page, and go “No, No, No.” Next.

[✗] Mario Nabliba (R)

Mario Nabliba (FB) (R) is a Republican scientist, with a BS in Science/Physics (Computer Science) from the University of Lisbon (1989) and a MS Computer Science from the University of Phoenix (2006). He does not have previous elected experience, although he has been active with the RNC and campaigns. He was born in West Africa.

Position-wise, he is a Trump supporter. The main reason he is running is to combat homelessness in the veterans community. His other issues are pretty lightly sketched, although he does stress bringing a scientific approach to things and teaching more science.

This fellow strikes me as a typical immigrant who loves his country and wants to participate in the system. Although I don’t subscribe to all his views, I can’t fault him for trying. I think he’s too inexperienced to reach for the US Senate, so I’ll suggest he start smaller: city council, state assembly, or with his computer and science background, getting on some of the organizations that work on elections.

[✗] Lee Olson (None)

Lee Olson (FB) (None) is campaigning to “end our enslavement and pillage by an increasingly tyrannical government.” (note: At this point, I’m quoting Stan Freberg in my head: “Isabella, why do you keep hanging around with all these nuts?”). This fellow is the Chairman of the Committee To End Slavery, which (according to the LA Times) calls for California residents without children in public schools to be exempt from paying school-related taxes. He asserts that California schools are leaving pupils unprepared for college, forcing parents to seek other options, and that taxation for schools is happening “at gunpoint” and compares it to theft. He thinks government is getting more tyrannical, and that government must necessarily increase taxes (i.e. steal increasingly more of our hard earned income) in order to fund its growth. He thinks the government has no concern for the welfare of Americans, saying “How can it be that a government which takes more and more of Americans hard earned income, adds 320 new pages of freedom usurping regulations to the Federal Register every day, has built an extensive surveillance network to spy on every aspect of Americans financial, social, political, and religious lives and yet denies Americans the same knowledge of its activities under the guise of “National Security” possibly be concerned about the welfare of Americans?”

His campaign is in many ways a manifesto, and buried in the ravings are some good points (especially about the same what was “Tax Reform” under Trump). It is also a very libertarian manifesto, distinctly distanced from the formal Libertarian party. He’s also extremely worried about “the Republican introduction of a bill requiring all Americans to obtain and possess at all times a government approved ID document”.

I think the scariest thing is that I know guys like him. I work with guys with the exact same background.  Here’s some of his background: Lee Olson is a semiretired Rocket Scientist who has been a California resident for over 2½ decades.  He has B.S and M.S.E.E degrees from the University of Minnesota and a M.B.A degree from the University of Southern California. Lee’s technical specialty is Electromagnetic Environmental Effects (E3).  This encompasses disciplines such as Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC), Electromagnetic Interference (EMI), Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP), Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) and Communications Security (TEMPEST).  He also has been active in the areas of Spectrum Management and Systems Engineering (hardware, not software).  He is a certified Systems Engineer. Lee has been a member in good standing of the Military Industrial Complex (MIC) for over 5 decades.  He was initially involved in E3 control techniques research and development and then worked on various programs such as Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs – Minuteman II/III and Reagan’s Peacekeeper), missile defense programs (Sentinel, Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative and Missile Defense Agency systems), aircraft programs (Advanced Airborne Command Post and B-2), launch vehicles (Delta IV and Falcon 9), satellite programs (various communication, national security (NRO) and weather satellites and GPS IIF/III) and the now defunct, ill-managed Future Combat Systems (FCS) program as well as several Black Programs.  His bio goes on, and turns into a manifesto on the MIC.

This is a fellow who is smart and who means well, but is inappropriate for the Senate. The Senate isn’t rocket science, and this guy knows rocket science far too well. I can say that as someone who knows rocket science.

[✗] John Thompson Parker (PF)

John Thompson Parker (FB) (PF) has a website titled, not surprisingly, “Socialist for Senate”. That webpage doesn’t give much of his background, but Voters Edge does. They note that his current position is West Coast Coordinator for the International Action Center. He’s also been the West Coast Editor for the Workers World Newspaper (2004–current); a Council Member, South Central Neighborhood Council in 2015, and President, Empowerment Congress Central Area Neighborhood Development Council (2011–2012). The latter two were elected positions. But it doesn’t make a difference, as he notes on his webpage, “I’m not running to legitimize this system or the election process or give any false hopes that being in office allows you to change anything. Change takes the power of the peoples movement independent of the influences of the ruling class.”

His positions, enumerated on his main page, have some that are congruent with progressive goals, and some that don’t. To me, most notable was solidarity with the Palestinians against Israel. I may not always agree with the Israeli government, but I won’t go that far. He’s also a true Socialist, wanting to convert private ownership of critical industries to public ownership. That’s too far in my book.

[✗] Herbert G. Peters (D)

Herbert G. Peters (D) has a text only page for his campaign website, and bills himself as an “Andrew Jackson” democrat, who he views as quality leadership. Translation: He wants to get rid of the Federal Reserve and US Government printed money. He’s fundamentalist Christian, pro-life, and pro-second amendment. He wants to repeal the Federal income tax, close all foreign military bases, and much more. He has a list of about 50 subpages. I don’t think I need to investigate his background with these positions.

His stated affiliation of Democratic balances out Roque “Rocky” de la Fuente’s affiliation as Republican. Both are part of the indicated party in name only. Peters is to the right of Trump, and does not get my support.

[✗] Douglas Howard Pierce (D)

Douglas Howard Pierce (D) has a campaign page that appears to be his Twitter page; his actual “for Senate” page is blank. There’s  not much useful information on a Twitter feed, but there is this wonderful tweet: “AFTER YOU LEARN THAT ALL THESE COUNTRIES WE BOTH DIED FOR, and/OR FEeD UP WANT AND OR DESTROY US SEND US THEIR ANIMALS…. You WILL BE BEYOND DESHEARTENED / JESUS TOLD US BEFORE YOU WILL KNOW THEM BY THEIR WICKED SPIRITS, MOSES WOULD HAVE KICKED THEIR TEETH IN.” Ummm, OK.

I haven’t been able to find more information about him. If he can’t be bothered to properly provide web information in this day and age, he’s not a serious candidate in my book.

[✗] Gerald Plummer (D)

Gerald Plummer (FB) (D) has a campaign webpage that tried to download a video (.wmv). Bad form. His webpage indicates he is taking no money. None. As for his background, he has his resume online: it is primarily construction management.

In terms of his positions, they mostly align Democratic. There are hints he is an anti-vaxxer, as he wants to lift the shield of drug manufacturers for vaccines. His website doesn’t really grab me, and I’m getting tired of the kooks. Next.

[✗] Derrick Michel Reid (L)

Derrick Michel Reid (FB) (L) ran for President on the Libertarian ticket in 2018. He has his resume online. He is well educated: a Juris Doctor from Western States University; graduate studies in electrical engineering at USC; a BS in Electrical Engineering from Berkeley. As for his experience, he says: ” I devised a comprehensive integrated sweeping solution set for solving major US systemic problems, such as eliminating the national debt, having skills in law, systems analysis, engineering, military science, politics, cultural analysis, war, geopolitics and markets, with an equivalency of six university degrees, culminating in a run for the US Presidency in the Libertarian Party.” Sigh.

His positions are the traditional Libertarian positions, although (quite oddly) he has the Battle Hymn of the Republic on his issues page. That might be a potential dog whistle.

I’m not a big fan of Libertarianism, except on the social issue side. I can’t support him.

[✗] Ling Ling Shi (None)

Ling Ling Shi (None) bills her campaign as “Run for God’s Heart and America’s Freedom”. Rather than attempt to describe it, here are the first three paragraphs from her website:

In year 2005, a Chinese American, with a dream to film a musical movie “Song of Salvation”, Ling Ling Shi became a student of USC Summer Directing Intensive Program. In the past 10 years, the dream of “Song of Salvation” is carried on by the hope and faith and love in God.

Since the time of 2008 economic crisis, under the calling of Lord Jesus Christ, Ling Ling Shi stepped into an amazing journey to write two  urgent message books for America’s awakening and future. She has delivered the urgent messages to President Obama and Vice President Biden, the Cabinet of the United States, and the U.S. Congress.

Now, through U.S. Senator 2018 campaign, Ling Ling Shi will continue  the mission from Lord Jesus Christ to deliver the urgent messages for America.

Well, that was from 2018, but the message is still being carried (you can see it on a crowdfunding website for the 2018 run). Not to me. Oh, when will this ballot end. Next.

[✗] Paul A. Taylor (R)

Paul A. Taylor (FB) (R), thankfully, appears to be a closer-to-normal candidate. He’s a small businessman (foam construction, water cutting) with no prior political experience. His platform appears to be the typical Republican platform with (thankfully) no surprises.

I don’t support the Republican platform, so I can’t support him. His political inexperience keeps him in Tier 3.

[✗] Donnie O. Turner (D)

Donnie O. Turner (D) does not appear to have a campaign page or a Facebook page. Neither Voters Edge or Ballotpedia have any information.

Conclusion

Whew! That was a lot of candidates. From going through them all, there are 4 possibilities: Kevin de Leon (FB) (D), Dianne Feinstein (FB) (D) (Inc), Pat Harris (FB) (D), and David Hildebrand (FB) (D). None of them convinced me not to vote for Feinstein, but Harris in particular raised quite a few significant questions. I’m going to continue to support Feinstein because of the seniority she has and her committee memberships — which I don’t want to give up at least while Trump is in power. But if you can’t stomach Feinstein, de Leon is a plausible alternative, with Harris and Hildebrand worthy of consideration.

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