🗳️ Mar 2024 Primary Election Ballot Analysis (I): Intro + State/National Offices

Here in California (and in Los Angeles in particular), we have an election coming up. You know what that means: Every election, I do a detailed ballot analysis of my sample ballot. This is where I examine each candidate and share my conclusions, and invite you to convince me to vote for the other jerk.  Because this is a long ballot, I’m splitting this analysis into a few chunks (note: links may not be available until all segments are posted):

  1. State and National Offices (excluding judges)
  2. County and City (Los Angeles) Local Offices (excluding judges)
  3. Local and State Measures (nee Propositions)
  4. Judicial Offices (County and State)
  5. Summary

Note: This analysis is NOT presented in the same order as the Sample Ballot (the ballot order makes no sense). I’ve attempted instead to present things in more logical order.

This part covers the State and National Offices (i.e., the President and Congress):

  • Federal: President ❦ US Senate (two elections) ❦ US Representative, 32nd District
  • State: State Senator 27th District State Assembly ❦  40th District ❦ Board of Equalization, 3rd District ❦ Supt. of Public Instruction


Presidential Preference (Democratic) 

At least for me, this election is pretty clear. We cannot (and I emphasize that—we cannot) let Donald Trump return to the Presidency. He has already indicated that he will take an authoritarian bent, and that he will seek revenge for his political enemies and those he considers beneath him (which is pretty much anyone when they aren’t kissing his —). Further, he has clearly indicated he believes he is above the law. Further, the other Republican candidates have indicated they support his policies.

So what we need to do is pick the best candidate who can beat Trump. I’ll look at all the candidates, but the answer is pretty much fore-ordained whether I like it or not.

 Armando “Mando” Perez-Serrato

This fellow ran for governor of California in 2022. Back then, I wrote: “He says he’s a Democrat, but he writes “Instead of following fraudulent Black Lives Matter Organization that is Anti-American. They committed FRAUD and purchased a 6 Million Dollar Mansion with the Non-Profit Donations it received instead of supporting the Black Community.” Something isn’t right. Writing about Newsom, he says “He has turned our Golden State into a dangerous, crazy, MASS SHOOTING “WAR ZONE.” His goal is to close all prisons, eliminate police all together and make all crime legal with no punishment. We are all suffering and in danger under Newsom’s rendition of “The Purge” movie, playing out all over our great state causing death, injury & trauma. Newsom the “Putin of California” is only good at making the lives of the Working-Class extremely Difficult & Unsafe.” I think this guy is off the rails.”

Looking at his current site, he continues to be off the rails: “Vote for Mando as your way to Protest Against the GENOCIDE of 30,000 Palestinians & to support a #CeasefireNow. Biden/Kamala/ Netanyahu are War Criminals. GENOCIDE JOE, how many BABIES, CHILDREN and MOTHERS did you kill today in GAZA? Mando will refer Joe Biden/ Kamala/ Benjamin Netanyahu to the International Criminal Court for War Crimes & make sure Hunter Biden goes to prison for Federal Crimes. #GenocideJoe #ComplicitKamala” I agree on Netanyahu’s policies being wrong, but I feel “genocide” is too strong a word; further, the American leadership is not responsible for the Israeli government’s actions. It also sounds like he is anti-Israel. While I don’t agree with the government of Israel’s actions, I am strongly pro-Israel and her right to exist.

I disagree with this guy, and don’t think he’s in a position to beat Trump.

 Stephen P Lyons

I read through this fellow’s position statements. He’s a plumber who wants to play President. His positions seem to be very naïve, and don’t reflect an understanding of what the National government does, how it is structured, and how the relationships work. Further, I don’t see anyway this fellow could beat Trump.


 Eban Cambridge

This guy doesn’t have a candidate web page. Per LinkedIn, he is a “Web Developer, Data Analyst, User Experience Designer and User Interface Designer roles” But he doesn’t really have a lot of experience, and nothing political. No political campaigns. His Facebook page is a joke. He can’t beat Trump, and I can’t take him seriously.

 Gabriel Cornejo

I started by reviewing his policy positions. Domestically, he reminds me of Bernie with a touch of “legalize all drugs”. But as for international relations: Nothing. He seems to have no political experience. That’s a liability, for in this campaign, you need to have experience building coalitions to beat Trump. He comes across as too inexperienced and not ready for prime time. He should focus his ideas lower down the political tree: city or state level offices.

 President R Boddie

This fellow is a previous candidate for governor of Georgia. Reading his page, this guy is a kook. He’s running because God told him to run. Here’s a typical paragraph from his website: “Peace and love… I need everybody in the state of Georgia and the United States and the world for that matter to know that the devil is (right now ), ‘as we speak’, planning a global famine! This is not the hand of the true and living God, it is the hand of man. Isaiah 14;16 says the devil is a man. His name is Lucifer . He is not a spirit, he’s not some figure on the hot sauce bottle, he’s very real, and what he’s trying to do right now is get this famine going, so that everybody can begin to depend on him and his globalist movement for food!” He ran for President in 2020 and was trounced.

He’s right about running. Run very far from this guy.

Joseph R. Biden Jr INC

Ah, Uncle Joe. How I wish you can kept to your word and limited yourself to one term. You’re too old, and in a contrast based on age, you present a poor image. You should have been grooming your replacement over the last four years. But you didn’t. Plus, you bring a lot of baggage that may influence those on the edges, and that isn’t good.

But even with all that, you’re still the best candidate. You have the Democratic establishment behind you. You’ve brought the economy back. You’ve got America being respected again. You’ve been trying to do the right things with respect to immigration and student loans and such, but the Republican MAGA block has stymied you. They’ve also made it so the people haven’t seen your accomplishments.

But what you have gotten done is remarkable (and so much more positive than when Trump was President). Most importantly for me, I didn’t wake up each morning going, “So what did that $#@*() do today?”. I haven’t had to think about the President doing stupid stuff, what the President was tweeting, who the President was insulting. I could relax and have confidence that our country was being led by someone who knew what they were doing. I could relax and trust that the team he has chosen is competent, working in the best interest of the country, and (most of all) that the President is actually listening to and following their advice.

That feeling alone makes me want to support Biden/Harris.

 Marianne Williamson

Williamson ran for President in 2020, and didn’t come near on the nomination. As I recall, she came off a bit odd in the debates. Her website cites an article with the headline “Marianne Williamson Is Polling Just As Well Against Biden as Nikki Haley Is Against Trump“, as if that’s a good thing. Much as I like Haley for challenging Trump and getting under his skin, she has no chance of dethroning him from the nomination. More importantly, the only number I care about is how Williamson polls in a matchup with Trump, and there I think she’ll lose.

She’s still a nope.

ETA: As of Thu 2024-02-08, Williamson has suspended her campaign for President.

 Dean Phillips

This fellow is a congressman from Minnesota, and as such, is the only other candidate on the Democratic slate who has political experience and has won an election. He has a fair platform, vaguely Bernie-esque. HIs positions, such as they are, are good. However, he says nothing about international relations, so I think he is inexperienced in that area. Still, surprisingly, I think he is the most viable alternative. But in a matchup with Trump, he wouldn’t survive.

📋 Conclusion

For me, the choice is clear: Joseph R. Biden JrHe has a demonstrated ability to beat Donald Trump. He has positions that I agree with. I don’t have to wake up each day wondering what stupid things he has been doing. He doesn’t consider himself above the law. He doesn’t seek revenge against his political opponents. I just wish he was 20 years younger.

His age does raise the question: Is his running mate up to being President if something happens to Joe? My faults with Harris are not her experience or her political positions. She’s just not as dynamic a speaker and motivator. She comes across much softer; Klobachar was better on the stump. Her positions are good, and I believe her positions align with mine. So I have every confidence that she could fulfill the role of President, and would grow in gravitas in the position.


US Senate

This is our second weird Senate election in California in a row. This time, it is weird because Dianne Feinstein passed away while in office. This means we get to vote someone in for the “partial term” of two months, and then someone for the full term position. Laphonza Butler, whom the Governor appointed, is not running, so it is a wide-open field. So, remember, there are two senate elections: one for the full term (2025-2031), and one for the remainder of the current term (11/2024-01/2025).

Some broad notes going in. With the Republican candidate, the question first and foremost is whether they are batshit crazy—or to put it another way, are they Trumpublicans (subscribing to MAGA philosophy, supporting Donald Trump, and using Trumpublican coding), or are they traditional Goldwater Republicans. The former I cannot support in any way. The latter—well, although I won’t be voting for them, they might be a good choice for moderate Rs out there. For the Democratic candidates, I expect less flying-squirrel-crazy. There the question is more: Are they stronger than the front runners? Do they have better positions, and can they defeat them?

As for who I perceive the front runners to be: On the D side, Schiff, Porter, Lee, because of name recognition, Pascucci. On the R side, Garvey. My approach was to analyze the minor candidates first, and then work through the front runners. I’ll mark the front runners with ⭐

US Senator (⌛ indicates “full term”; ⏳ indicates partial term (under 2 months)

This is the main contest. The primary winnowed out a large field to just two candidates: a Democrat and a Republican. Given the nature of the state, the result will be predictable. But let’s pretend…

 Eric Early ⌛⏳ (R)

When you go to this fellow’s page, you are hit with a fundraising popup berating the Democrat’s “woke” ideology. I’m sorry, but if you use that word to describe caring about others, you’re off my list. But let’s see what other gems this fellow has. He talks about supporting “the Parents’ Bill of Rights”, which is a phrase that indicates support for school agendas that remove books for libraries, and makes lift harder for the very small number of kids dealing with Trans issues. His about page talks about “the Socialist woke interests that control Washington, DC”. I don’t think he knows what socialism is—there is nothing about government owning the means of production in the Democratic platform. So this fellow believes in spouting buzzwords. He wants to “cut overly-burdensome regulations that get in the way of entrepreneurship and job creation”. Again, this is Republican speak for dismantling what they call the Regulatory state, and what is really means is removing expertise from the regulatory arena. A lot of Republican endorsements. His website is otherwise light on positions, so let’s look at his candidate statement. He says “protect our 2nd Amendment rights”, meaning he is strongly pro-guns. He says “stop schools indoctrinating children about gender fluidity and America hatred;” which is pretty clear about his position regarding LGBTQ rights. He says “rid women’s sports of biological males”, which shows he has no idea about what transition really is. He echoes Trump and Trump’s believe that Trump is above the law when he writes “investigate a Justice Department weaponized to destroy our former President.”. The only thing surprising is that he says nothing about abortion. Lastly, he says”With courage and belief in God, America will prevail in this battle of good versus evil.”. This shows he wants to bring Christian values into his political actions.

I might be able to recommend a Republican that is an old style Republican conservative (although I wouldn’t vote for one because while Trump’s faction is still powerful, a Republican majority is dangerous to the nation), this guy is at the MAGA end of the spectrum. No.

Adam B Schiff ⌛⏳ (D)

Although Schiff is first in this list, he’s the last of the set of candidates for this office I analyzed. That’s because he’s part of the trio that I like the best.

Schiff represents California’s 30th Congressional District, and has since 2001; before that, he was in the California State Senate from 1996 to 2000. Schiff serves as a senior member of the House Committee on the Judiciary, and is on a leave of absence from the House Appropriations Committee,where he remains an ex officio member. Prior to this assignment, Schiff was on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence from 2011-2012 as a rank and file member, Ranking Member from 2015-2018, and Chairman from 2019-2022. In addition, he also served as a member of the House International Relations Committee from 2001 to 2006, the House Judiciary Committee from 2001 to 2011, and the House Committee on Appropriations from 2013 to 2015. Of the three candidates with experience, he’s in the middle (Lee has more, Porter has less).

Reviewing his positions: He has an extremely strong set (and I agree with them). He’s staked some remarkable positions in terms of ethics: prohibiting stock trading, getting rid of Citizens United, expanding the Supreme Court, ending voter suppression, getting rid of the Gerrymander, He has great positions on making things more affordable. He’s also done a hell of a lot while in office. Lastly, he gored Trump’s Ox while being on the House Select Jan 6 Investigation committee.  That’s a plus.

With respect to Israel, The Hill noted that Schiff said: “I don’t know how you can ask any nation to cease fire when their people are being held by a terrorist organization. It’s not, in my view, incompatible with human nature to grieve the loss of both innocent Palestinians as well as innocent Israelis. We can’t leave Hamas governing Gaza. They’re still holding over 100 hostages, including Americans.” The Guardian says Schiff has emphasized that “there are no both sides to the attack” by Hamas. Israel has a right to defend itself, and the US must do all it can to assist Israel as it protects its citizens and takes all necessary steps to recover the hostages taken. Hamas is a terrorist group mass-murdering hundreds of innocent Israelis and taking women and children hostage.” Schiff has rejected calling for a ceasefire, a position in line with that of the Biden White House. He seemed to imply that any ceasefire is dependent on getting the hostages back. Again, a position I tend to agree with.

I took a look at his endorsements. What I really want to get a sense of who wants to work with him, and where is the preponderance of support. Pelosi and the LA Times endorse him. He has the endorsements of over 20 union organizations in California, and close to 60%, of the California House Democrats. His total is over 200.

He’s on the short list.

 Major Singh ⌛ (–)

Singh has run for Governor before, with essentially the same website. When he was part of the Newsom Recall Jungle mess, I wrote: “Sikh. Wants the recall. Has no positions on his website. Next.” He still has no positions on his website, and the only thing in his candidate statement is that his father is his role model. Still “Next”.

 Stefan Simchowitz ⌛ (R)

This fellow is a Republican art collector who is running for Senate. No real candidate statement in the voter guide. His issues page notes that “my policy platform is firmly rooted in the unwavering support of the Second Amendment”. So he supports gun rights. His other positions seem somewhat moderate. There is no evidence that he is part of the MAGA camp. Although centrist, he has an … interesting … monetary policy: “modern monetary theory, which purports that governments should disregard fears of accumulating debt and continue to print money liberally until the population reaches full employment. To combat inflation, the theory goes, the government would have to reduce the amount of money in circulation by raising taxes. But, he argues, inflation is caused by many factors and there are other ways to temper it. ” He is known as “the SITH LORD of the art world”, and is shunned for approaching young artists directly to buy their work and is even blamed for causing them to ‘flame out’ by pushing prices too high.

Interesting fellow. Could be a plausible R candidate, if you support Republicans, but I think his monetary theory to too far out there. But it would gain no traction in the Senate.

But I’m not voting Republican at all. I will not enable that party this year.

🌓 ⭐ Christina Pascucci ⌛⏳ (D)

I put Pascucci in the “front runner” list (although she isn’t high in the polls) because she’s got the name recognition, baby. She’s been a news anchor at both KTLA and KTTV in Los Angeles, and the local station anchors are often better known than their network counterparts. But, like Garvey, that’s her main claim to fame. His was baseball; hers was journalism. So she’s closely watched and observed politics, but she’s never personally executed politics (except, perhaps, office politics in the news biz). She’s concerned with family issues, having worked with children; having her own is on the horizon as (according to her page), she’s “expecting”.

I’ll note her campaign is upset because the Secretary of State screwed up and listed her profession on the ballot as “No Ballot Designation”, which they later corrected to “Local Television Journalist”. First, given how journalism is viewed by some these days, I’m not sure the fix was better.  Second, and perhaps more important, I don’t think people will be going “I was going to vote for someone else, but then I saw she was a journalist, and now she’s the gal for me.”

Position-wise, she says she’s positioning herself as a JFK-era Democrat, and wants to battle the “extremist” folks in the Democratic party. I’m not sure who those are, as the Democrats have moved to the right since JFK. Perhaps the Bernie-crats, but she also says she is for Universal Health Care. I note particularly her line: “These establishment Democrats have stood by idly and been complicit in the rise of extreme ideologies within the Democratic Party. As some justified violence as activism, they stood by, and said nothing.” The “violence as activism” line makes me wonder if she’s talking about the Black Lives Matter protests—but as she was referencing JFK, she’s probably forgetting about similar “violence as activism” as the Watts Riots, or the protests at the 1968 DNC Convention, or even the frustrations after Rodney King. Was she in journalism then?

Her pages also talk about “tackling issues some on the left have denied exist, like rising crime and the border crisis.” We know, based on what was going on in the Senate at the end of January, that the Democrats were tackling the border crisis with a bipartisan bill that looked to be on the path to … being shot down by the MAGA Republicans because they want it as a campaign issue. As for rising crime, that is not really a Senate level issue, other than providing leftover weapons to the police via the Justice Department. Criminal laws are usually set at the state level; if she wanted to tackle rising crime, you do that from the Assembly or State Senate, or from the District Attorney’s office.

Her website is silent on a number of issues: women’s rights, trans rights, Israel and Gaza, Ukraine (other than her work with children), China.  Reading through X, I haven’t seen any pro-Palestinian implications, so I sense she’s with the State of Israel. It would be good—given we’re at the Federal level—to know her positions on the other issues. Most of her recent posts, other than gushing about being a future mom, have to do with visibility against the other candidates, in either the debates or with ballot designations.

I don’t see strong negatives with her. But when contrasted with the three Democrats front-runners, who we know well from their work in the house, her inexperience in politics is a sharp dividing lines. For some, that’s a draw. For me, I like to work with folks that know what they are doing and how the system works (and how and when to work the system).

 David Peterson ⌛ (D)

No, we don’t have another baseball player on the campaign trail. This Peterson builds accountability systems (whatever those are) and has been a legislative analyst. His statements of position are skimpy: Medicare for all, and “Eliminate Fines, Fees and Restrictions on Residential Solar”. I’ll note, as someone approaching 65 — you don’t want real Medicare for all, as it is far too confusing with all the different parts. A simplified single-payer would be better, and I’m guessing that’s what “Medicare for all” is code for.  His voter guide candidate statement oddly refers to “Drain-the-Swamp” (which is usual Trump-coding), but he seems to refer more to “Congress Members who take Money from donors that demand federal favors” (which, to me, is more Rs than Ds). His X page seems to be doing a lot of shilling for RFK Jr., which is problematic. His FB page makes things clearer: he’s part of the “Berners for Bobby” movement (which must be a thing). Peterson doesn’t strike me as strong enough to beat the front runners, nor does he have the breadth of positions and experience. Further, he supports RFK Jr, which is problematic in many ways, for RFK Jr is not RFK (and I’m old enough to remember RFK). Next.

 Perry Pound ⌛ (D)

Reading through his front page, his positions are mostly the Democratic mainstream, although he is in the universal health care camp. His opening statement, however, is problematic: “I am running for US Senator, because the Senate is blocking our national progress! If you like the way things are right now, then I’m not the candidate for you. But, if, like me and most Californians, you’re no longer willing to stand by and watch the America we love slip away, then I invite you to join our campaign.” Well, sir, the Senate was blocking progress when McConnell was in charge; now it is the House that is blocking progress. Note what is in common there? Progress is blocked when the R branch has the majority. So I like what the D leadership is trying to do, but the California Senate election won’t fix the blockage, especially with a low-seniority senator. As for watching the “America we love” slip away, you really need to define that term. If you mean white-bread America of the 1950s and 1960s, I say good riddance. Those ideas are dated and out of touch, and are more a reflection of what TV portrayed America as, not what it was on the ground. I want America to be the best it can, revolving around the notions of equality for all (and not just particular ethnicities, orientations, or genders), and justice for all (with no one being above the law).

Pound hasn’t held elective office before, and is CEO of “an investment and advisory firm specializing in real estate and climate technology with the mission of advancing market innovation to address societal challenges” Word-salad for someone not familiar with how the senate works. One statement of his on X may expose some of his underlying motive: “We must streamline the housing development process to solve the problem. We do not build enough. I developed 30 projects and 5,000 units from 2002 to 2019 in LA County. It takes at least five years to start and complete a development and begin leasing.” I wonder if this fellow is in this for similar reasons to Rick Caruso: a mix of wanting to improve things where one of those things is his bottom line?

But reading through this, I don’t see any offensive ideas. But I also don’t see someone strong enough to overtake the front runners.

Katie Porter ⌛⏳ (D)

Katie Porter has been representing California’s 47th congressional district since 2023, and previously representing the 45th congressional district from 2019 to 2023. This makes her one of three candidates with National experience in Congress (the others being Schiff and Lee), coming in 3rd for the number of years. She is on the Committee on Natural Resources, the Committee on Oversight and Reform, Subcommittee on National Security, the Border, and Foreign Affairs, and Joint Economic Committee, and is the Ranking Member on the Subcommittee on Health Care and Financial Services.

Porter has always been one of my favorite candidates. I like her approach to things; I like how she brooks no bullshit.  Her positions on the issues are mainstream Democrats and align with my views. Issue after Issue after Issue I agree with her. She would make a great senator, and were she the only experienced Democrat on the Primary ballot, I’d be for her in a heartbeat.

What about Israel and Gaza? In December, her office issued the following statement: “I support working toward a lasting bilateral ceasefire in Gaza. That must happen between the parties engaged in conflict, and this is a war between Israel and Hamas. The role of the United States should be to identify and push for conditions where a lasting bilateral ceasefire is possible.” The statement goes on: “These conditions include release of all hostages, durable security for Israel, and an end to Hamas’ control of Gaza. A lasting peace will then require commitment to postwar economic and humanitarian aid to rebuild Gaza and negotiations toward a democratic Palestinian state with full and equal rights for its citizens.” As you drill a bit deeper, her response on the issue is just a bit more hostile to the current Israeli government than Schiff. According to Politico, Porter also blamed the U.S. for failing to take a “strong enough” stand against Iran, which supports Hamas as well as the Hezbollah militants in Lebanon and elsewhere, though she provided no specifics about that position and it wasn’t clear if she was criticizing the Biden administration or previous administrations.

In terms of endorsements, Porter has been endorsed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Huntington Park Mayor Eddie Martinez, and Tustin Mayor Pro-Tem Leticia Clark, among others. She has an order of magnitude less endorsements than Schiff or Lee.

In short: I have no disagreements with Porter. She’s on the short list.

 Douglas H. Pierce ⌛ (D)

The front page of his website has this weird popup (after the fundraising popup) blathering about “Law and Order”, “Crime in America”, an antisemitic hit and run homicide suspect, and how Pierce has 25 years fighting crime as a USA and Mexico Special Agent. WTF? I think I’ve found the Flying-Squirrel-Crazy.

Pierce’s background seems to be all over the place, but the emphasis is on his being an ex-special agent. He has no political experience. His platform seems… strange. By that I mean it comes across more as pandering than well thought out. For example, in a message titled “Special Message for BLM Black Americans”, he talks about supporting reparations. So why not just call it “reparations”? The BLM Black Americans seems wrong. For Latinos, he talks about immigration reform (but immigration is not just a Latinx issue). Reading through the rest of his issues, they seem not to be fully formed. The translation of this–to me–is that he would be eaten alive by folks with the real depth of knowledge such as Schiff or Porter. Part of being a senator is knowing the issues as more than sound bites, understanding the nuances and complexities.

He doesn’t have what it takes to beat the front runners.

 Raji Rab ⌛ (D)

Rab’s website keeps being reported as a phishing website, so I can’t go to it easily. Suffice it to say that this fellow is a perennial candidate, running for various offices since 2016. In March 2020, I wrote “He’s run for Congress many times; in 2019 he ran for City Council. In 2016, I noted that he has the basic Democratic positions, but doesn’t distinguish himself enough from Sherman to make it worth the change. In 2018, I noted that he “does not know how to design a web page, or to hire a web page designer.” I also noted that 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. I tried reading through his positions, and couldn’t quite figure out what he was advocating.” His candidate statement on the Secretary of State site doesn’t say much. From the Democratic side of things, I think there are much stronger candidates.

 Mark Ruzon ⌛ (–: American Solidarity)

The American Solidary site, of which Ruzon’s web page is a part of, has a section “Pro-Life for the Whole Life”. Them’s coded words pardner. Strike one.  But I’ll note that unlike most pro-life folks, he’s consistent about being pro-life after they are born as well.  He’s in favor of ranked choice voting and proportional representation. That’s good. He’s in favor of a humane immigration system. Good. He has some interesting economic ideas, but I’m not sure I agree with them all. There aren’t many other positions on his website — for good or bad.  Based on his website, I don’t think he’s batshit crazy (unlike many other candidates). I just don’t think he has sufficient breadth of experience and positions, especially when compared to the other candidates, to be viable. His party is a Christian Democratic party, which makes me nervous, especially as they are socially conservative.

 Jonathan Reiss ⌛ (R)

What hits you first when you visit this candidate’s campaign site is a large “America First”. Now that might sound innocuous, but it has become MAGA code-speak. The MAGA vision behind the phrase has had three primary strands: disengaging the U.S. from global politics, disdaining allies and befriending autocratic leaders. The phrase has also been linked to antisemitism during WWII (another common antisemetic dog-whistle are the phrases “globalism” or “globalist”). So seeing this on this fellow’s front page is a big Strike One. His Platform Page has another interesting line: “Returning to the people and the states the power that belongs to them to make their own decisions”. In other words, “state’s rights”, which was the argument the Confederate States used when they seceded. It echoes in the abortion debate, in the social conservatism, and in what Texas is doing on the border … that is, until they can force the issue at the National level. Strike two. His issues page avoids the hot button issues (such as mentioning Trump), but does discuss “Parental Rights”—more MAGA code for their fight against what they perceive as a “woke agenda” (their term, not mine). Strike three.

But let’s go on, as this guy looks so professional and non-kook-ish.  He has no actual political experience,  although he has a degree in government.  That tends to be a Republican theme these days, thanks to Trump. He seems to have eschewed any mainstream social media presence — essentially empty pages on X, no FB presence. He ran for Congress in 2022, and came in last in the primary field. He ran for Assembly in 2018, and also came in last in the primary.  WIth the three strikes, his clear inexperience, I’m don’t think he’s even a viable candidate for the non-MAGA Republicans. Nope.

 John Rose ⌛ (D)

This is not the Tennessee Republican. This John Rose is the founder of Democracy Awareness Project, and has no prior campaign experience. He’s raising money by selling cookies, but the cookies are out of stock. His main positions appear to be ending the filibuster and democracy awareness. Oh, and the visual arts of his Stars and Stripes Mobius.

Oh the whole, he doesn’t seem to have a complete campaign, with a well-rounded understanding of the issues a Senator would face. Certainly, he’s not ready for prime time.

 Harmesh Kumar ⌛ (D)

I’m not sure what to make of this guy. The text on the front page of his campaign site starts out with “Within the vast tapestry of human existence, there are pivotal moments that define us, shaping the trajectory of our lives. Allow me to introduce myself as Dr. Harmesh Kumar, a living testament to the profound impact of democracy.” What?!?! This guy is a clinical psychologist who wants to be a Senator. Uhhhhh. Actually, according to Ballotpedia, he is actually running for both the Senate seat and  the special election to fill the 20th Congressional District seat. That special election is two weeks after the state primary, so he’s either hedging his bets or doesn’t expect to move past the Senate primary. But here’s what is strange here: He’s only running in that special election, not the main election for the 20th DIstrict normal 2 year term. So if he moves on and wins both in November, he could be in Congress for 2 months and then the Senate. Odd. In the past, he’s run for Governor, Assembly, and City Council. That latter, by the way, was in Concord CA. The 20th Congressional is near Bakersfield. He lives in Concord.

Looking at his issues page, he seems to have a singular focus on mental illness and its impacts. That’s all fine and good, but the issues faced in the Senate are much broader than that.

I can’t take this guy seriously.

 James “Jim” Macauley ⌛ (R)

His campaign website is light on details, other than a vague “unity platform” and some rambling economic ideas. But there’s a reason for that. When he ran for Congress in 2022 (in a district he didn’t live in), KGET noted “A true number-cruncher at heart, his reason for running — and his entire campaign platform — centers on one tax plan he created.” That seems to be the focus of his X page as well. He came in deal last in his 2022 congressional primary campaign.  He appears to be a one-issue candidate, unqualified for public office.

Steve Garvey ⌛⏳ (R)

Garvey is the front-runner on the R side, primarily because of the name recognition from his Dodger Days. This is his first time running for office. The front page of his campaign site says little about his positions, but emphasizes his fame and business skills. Hmm, political neophyte, selling himself on fame and business skills. I think we’ve been here before.

Looking at his vision, he seems to be promoting centrist Republican ideals with nary a dogwhistle or coded statement. It all seems carefully tailored to get him that second place position in the California Primary to get Republicans a chance, whereas a MAGA R would turn off the Centrists and make this a Dem vs Dem for the general election. So let’s dig a little deeper. Garvey has supported Trump in the past, but refuses to take a position on support for Trump in 2024. He’s against abortion personally, but doesn’t want Federal legislation on the subject. He has indicated that Reagan was a role model in the past, and he is much like Reagan: Running on fame, broad conservative positions, and very little specifics on the record.

He is also hypocritical. He touts family values and integrity, but he’s also screwed up his family and his kids don’t talk to him. Does that disqualify someone from the Senate? Probably not.

I can see Garvey’s appeal to the centrist Republicans in California. I can also see why the MAGA Republicans are deriding him as a RINO, because he is not explicitly touting MAGA coding and support for Trump. But to me, he is running on fame and platitudes. He doesn’t know the Senate; he doesn’t understand politics. He doesn’t have the right skillset for the Senate. He should stick to baseball, and leave politics to the politicians.

Lastly, I don’t want to do anything that might tip the Senate majority to the Republicans. That would serve to enable Trump if Trump wins, and I cannot support or enable that in any way, shape or form.

 Denice Gary-Pandol ⌛ (R)

Similar to other R candidates, the front page of her campaign website talks about her want to achieve “the America First Doctrine”. As we noted with Reiss above, that’s MAGA code speak for an isolationist, borderline antisemetic position. She’s part of the political ilk that claim “Biden and Newsom are complicit in promoting crimes on multiple levels” with respect to the border (this is the same philosophy behind the attempted impeachment of the head of DHS).  She wants to protect the oil industry, and has a number of water issues (a common concern for the conservative agricultural base in California). But that’s seemingly all she talks about regarding issues on her campaign site. So let’s dig a little deeper.  Over on X, she has endorsed Donald Trump. Also on X, she has bragged about having TS clearances (one thing you learn if you work in that field is you never discuss publicly your clearance status, as that informs foreign operatives); this raises questions on how she might handle any intelligence she learns. On X she talks about protecting the 2nd Amendment, so she is code-speaking support for gun rights. Her Instagram shows she does not believe in climate change; that’s echoed in her statements on energy where she gushes about clean coal and clean oil. While talking about Dr. King on FB, she let slip the line “much work ahead of us to END Critical Race Theory instruction in our classrooms”, which shows she’s in the camp that doesn’t know what she’s talking about.  She’s clearly in the MAGA camp, and that a “no go” in my book, even with respect to recommending her as a candidate for those that vote R.

 Laura Garza ⌛ (–: Socialist Workers Party)

Garza is a perennial candidate for the SWP.  She has no campaign website I could find. According to Wikipedia, Garza ran twice for public office in Florida; 1993 for Mayor of Miami, and 1994 for United States House of Representatives in Florida’s 21st congressional district. She ran as the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) candidate for Vice President in 1996. She has been an unsuccessful candidate for Boston City Council three times; 2003 and 2005 as an at-large candidate, and 2009 as a candidate for the District 1 seat. She was the 2006 SWP candidate for the United States House of Representatives in Massachusetts’s 8th congressional district, which includes Cambridge, Chelsea, Somerville and about three quarters of Boston. She was the sole challenger to Democratic incumbent Mike Capuano, to whom she lost, receiving 12,390 votes, 9% of the total. Ballotpedia notes she tried to run for the LAUSD Board of Education in 2019, but wasn’t qualified for the ballot.

According to the Militant, she is working for a party based on and for the unions and rights for workers (which is a common socialist position). I haven’t found any broader statements of position, so she seems a one-issue candidate. Not the candidate for me.

 Sepi Gilani ⌛⏳ (D)

She’s running on a platform focusing primarily on mental health and addressing homelessness. All good things. She’s a doctor, but has precious little political experience. She comes across to me as a narrow-issue candidate, and there are much stronger candidates out there.

 Don J. Grundmann ⌛ (–:  Christian Nationalist Party, Constitution Party)

This is one candidate whom I am explicitly not  linking to his campaign site. All I will say is: read what this fellow has written in the Voter Guide.  He is the only candidate where the Secretary of State felt obliged to put in a disclaimer that “The views and opinions expressed by the candidates are their own and do not represent the views and opinions of the Secretary of State’s office.” Wow. Let’s put it this way: I never thought I would see a white supremacist publicly state those views in a candidate statement. His candidate statement is deeply offensive. This, folks, is what Trump has encouraged to fester and ferment. This fellow is a resounding NO ❌.

 Forrest Jones ⌛ (AI)

His website description starts with “Forrest is a mix of bumbling everyman who succeeds despite himself and intrepid adventurer seeking treasures for the betterment of mankind” Does that sound like a viable Senator? His positions seem to be rambling — a cross between Libertarian and Crazy. He has no candidate statement. Nothing seems to indicate that he has suitable experience. Next.

Barbara Lee ⌛⏳ (D)

Barbara Lee is the current congresscritter from the 12th District, and has been in Congress since 1988. This makes her one of three candidates with actual National experience in Congress, and of the three with experience, she has been in Congress the longest. She is a Senior Member on the Committee on Appropriations, and is on the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies, the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, and the Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs (Ranking Member). That’s a plus.

She’s a mainstream Democrat, and I agree with most of her positions. She wants to address climate change, is in favor of reproductive rights, knows foreign policy well, works for economic justice, wants to address the housing issues. The list goes on and on. Where we disagree is on her position related to Israel and Gaza. Back in December, she said “Representative Lee is among the first in Congress to call for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza, and continues to lead on efforts for a deescalation of violence and diplomatic solutions for peace and security in the region.” Ceasefires are fine in the short term, but they must be coupled with the return of the hostages, and addressing the fundamental problem in the region: The right of the State of Israel to merely exist. The Hill noted the divide with other candidates: “Lee and Porter have both backed a cease-fire in the war, while Schiff and Garvey have refused.” The Guardian noted that she said “I absolutely condemn all violence against civilians – including the horrific terrorist attacks by Hamas. Nothing is more valuable than human life. And the surest way to mitigate the suffering in both Israel and Palestine is through a ceasefire.” She also said the US “must lead the way forward” by supporting humanitarian and reconstruction aid, including food, medicine and water, to the region. She does support a two-state solution, unlike the current administration in Israel.

This is one of the few areas of distinction between her, Schiff, and Porter. Domestically, they are almost identical. She would be a strong candidate.

Lee has around 170 endorsements, including Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and fellow California Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna, who decided not to pursue the seat himself. Lee has also earned the support of Mayors Karen Bass of Los Angeles, a former House colleague, and London Breed of San Francisco. All told, Lee has more than 170 endorsements, including members of Congress, California legislators, local leaders and political committees.

 Gail Lightfoot ⌛ (L)

Lightfoot is Libertarian, and according to Ballotpedia, has been running for this position as the Libertarian candidate since 2010. The Libertarian positions are, in some ways, traditional Republican positions without the social conservativism. In other words: they tend to be isolationist, not wanting America to be involved internationally. They want to cut back on regulation and taxation. Those are traditional R positions. They also want the government out of social issues, meaning regulation of drugs, laws regulating women’s bodies. They want to get rid of regulation in the health care marketplace, getting government out of health care.

I just don’t subscribe to the Libertarian party positions. Not for me.

 Sarah Sun Liew ⌛ (R)

Here we have yet another Republican candidate that is using the phrase “America First” on the front page of their website. We’ve talked before about the coding behind that phrase, and why it is a problem. Strike one. Her front page also says she wants to “Rebuild A Solid Christian State” and that she supports Donald Trump in “his valiant fight for Christian civilization”.  Despite her beliefs, American is not a Christian nation; it is per the constitution agnostic with respect to any particular religion. Strike two. Looking at her platform, she has a page on Socialism where she demonstrates she doesn’t know what the phrase means, and more importantly, says “Sarah will never support policies that put the state before people, and that put the Government over God.”. I’m sorry, but I cannot support an elected official, who will swear an oath to the Constitution, who also believes in God over Government. She’s also “pro-life” in the Republican sense (i.e., against abortion in all forms), believes China is behind COVID, Next.

 Sharleta Bassett ⌛ (R)

Her about page starts with a mission statement that says “With my dedication to God’s principles…”. OK, so she places church above things. Strike one. She’s endorsed by Michael Flynn and Roger Stone. Strike two.  She has publicly endorsed Donald Trump. Strike three. You’re outta there.

 James Bradley ⌛ (R)

His front page doesn’t say “America First” (good), but does talk about “ensuring election integrity where voting is accessible but safeguarded against fraud” (which is coded language for his belief that the election was stolen in 2020). His positions platform has an odd statement on Black History: “No on critical race theory and rise above political narrative celebrating black history (Carter Godwin Woodson) by honoring respecting our achievements taking back history.” The CRT dogwhistle combined with “respecting our achievements” makes me think he either is or is borderline white supremacy.  I’ll note that another page says “Critical Race Theory (CRT) is the latest of indoctrination techniques”. Indoctrination? Ohhhhh Kay.  His X page claims Schiff is guilty of treason, demonstrating he doesn’t know what “treason” means (a common mistake, alas, but one a Coast Guard officer shouldn’t be making). He’s anti-vax (Jan 21: “Like get MANDATED Shots?”). He seems to be anti-Ukraine (or at least anti-Zelinsky). He equates the Democratic Party with Marxism (again, demonstrating he doesn’t know the meaning of that term), and … look … there’s America First. Next.

 Martin Veprauskas ⌛ (R)

What struck me first about this guy was his statement in the Voter Guide: “MS Cyber Security, and 4 years supporting Missile Defense Agency.” Sorry, you don’t publicly state you support MDA. If you do defense contracting, you should be vague about which specific programs you support, especially if they deal with classified information. Thankfully, he doesn’t say America First on the front door of his campaign page. He does talk about “Monitor [Mass Shooting] Suspects Prior To Shootings”, raising the question of how we determine who these suspects are in the first place (for if we could do that…). Specifically, his solution is “those diagnosed as posing a severe risk should be required to wear a wrist device serving as an early warning system. This device would notify authorities if these individuals are in proximity to sensitive locations such as churches, schools, or other mass gathering sites”. Hmmm, have any of our recent mass shooting suspects been diagnosed as a “severe risk” … or even identified as a risk at all .. prior to the shootings? Not that I’m aware of. He thinks desalinization plants are the answer for California’s water woes, without recognizing their costs and problems and low effectiveness. He wants to repeal the gas tax and go with cheaper blend gas. He doesn’t say, however, how he would fund the roads or prevent smog if he does this.

I guess the good news is that his is one of the few R sites that doesn’t have or link to MAGA code. The bad news is that irrespective of that, his ideas are just bad or not completely thought through. Next.

📋 Conclusion

I wade through this stuff, so you don’t have to. You’re welcome. The candidates here split into three tiers. There is the tail of the bell curve, the kooks, and the crazies, including the MAGA bunch. They have no chance, and don’t even make the list. Then there is the second tier: viable, but inexperienced. This list includes Pascucci and Garvey. Both are banking on their fame and their name recognition, and have innocuous well crafted positions. I’m eliminating both because of their inexperience. Additionally, Garvey is out because I don’t want to risk empowering Republicans into the majority, especially if Trump (God forbid) wins.

That leaves me with the trio of experienced Congresscritters: Barbara Lee (in Congress since 1989), Adam Schiff (since 2001), and Katie Porter (since 2021). I really wish that only one of them had run, and the others remained to be strong in Congress, representing their districts. All have strong positions that I agree with. Truthfully, you won’t go wrong with any of them. But I have to choose who to vote for. So, I’ve picked four criteria: (1) positions; (2) influence; (3) endorsements; and (4) thorn-in-the-side-ability.

In terms of positions, they are all strong, but I like Schiff’s slightly more than I do Porter. In terms of influence: Although Lee has been in Congress longest, she hasn’t had the most influential committee positions. Porter has committee visibility with her flipcharts, but isn’t on a lot of name committees. Schiff has been out there fighting the fight, getting the plum committee positions and staking leadership positions on the committees. Look at the work he did on the Jan 6th and Judiciary as an example. Then there is endorsements. Here, the sense I wanted to get was who was the most effective, and who did folks want to work with. I was hoping to see some Senators endorsing, but no luck. The endorsements are also a measure of how well the person does goes for the city or district doing the endorsement. Here, Schiff is the winner once again, with a large majority of the California delegation backing him. Lastly, there’s the measure of “thorn-in-the-side” — namely, if Trump gets elected, how much will the California Senator make his life difficult by calling him on his ethics and behavior, and not let him try steamroll the Senate. There, Lee is the clear loser, as she just isn’t forceful. Porter is annoying, but Schiff really gets Trump goat. This goes back to Schiff on Jan 6 and Judiciary.

Hmmm, in all four areas, Schiff is the winner. I guess I have my answer: Adam B Schiff ⌛⏳ (D)

US House of Representatives, 32nd District

For our house district, which includes the city of Malibu and the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Pacific Palisades, Beverly Glen, Bel Air, Studio City, Sherman Oaks, Woodland Hills, West Hills, Canoga Park, Winnetka, Reseda, Encino, Chatsworth, Northridge, Brentwood, North Hills, as well as the south side of Granada Hills, our incumbent is Brad Sherman. We have been very happy with Sherman, and so any challenger will need to really impress us. Further, the challenger has to be strong enough to overcome Sherman’s seniority in the house. The district is a very Democratic district, with a Cook PVI of D+20.

Christopher A. Ahuja (D)

This fellow’s bio is interesting. He is a Berniecrat, and has a Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology with a concentration in Exercise Science. He is currently enrolled at The Harvard Kennedy School of Government, working towards a Public Leadership Credential. HIs positions are what I would expect from a Berniecrat. Regarding Israel, he supports a permanent ceasefire to “end the constant destruction of innocent Palestinians and the return of innocent Israeli hostages.” He supports a two-state solution. He doesn’t have a lot of endorsements, but his daughter endorses him. Not his son :-). I don’t see him as a stronger voice than Brad Sherman.

◯ Dave Abbitt (D)

Abbitt is an entertainment executive at Lionsgate. He doesn’t have a campaign page; Ballotpedia links to his personal Facebook. He is strongly anti-Trump, writing on his FB in 2020: “Did you know of all the lawsuits Donald Trump has ever filed, he has never won a single one? He has never won at anything. He was fired from The Apprentice. His business prowess is a myth. He’s always been a loser. Except for that one time in 2016. When those of us who had an inkling of the shitshow we were in for accepted the results and went on with our lives till we could get him out four years later through the legitimacy of a Democratic vote.” He has no statements of positions. If he can’t take this seriously, I won’t either.

Larry Thompson (R)

Thompson is an “acclaimed Hollywood talent manager and veteran film producer, lawyer, book packager, author, Broadway Producer, and motivational speaker”.  He has the endorsement of the GOP establishment, probably because the other Republican candidate was worse. His position statement is … interesting. He’ll support Trump if he’s the nominee. He wants to close the border, and keep the government out of abortion (i.e., not make it legal at the national level). He wants to stop printing money, is in favor of gun rights, and strongly supports cryptocurrencies. More concerning to me is his line “the increasing dangers of living in West LA, and yes, even the many pot holes in our streets including Ventura Boulevard and Topanga Canyon Boulevard, plus the traffic and safety on Malibu’s Pacific Coast Highway. ” This makes me thing he’ll be more of a candidate for the West LA side, and not the valley.

This fellow doesn’t come off as stronger than Sherman. He certainly doesn’t have the experience, and he doesn’t seem to represent the valley well. Further, I cannot empower Republicans at the National level in case Trump wins. This seat must remain Democratic.

Trevor Lucas Witt (D)

Witt is a full-time rideshare driver, with a B.A. in International Security and Conflict Resolution and minors in Arabic and Islamic Studies. He supports “a ceasefire between the Israeli Defense Forces and Palestinian militant factions, the mutually agreed return of hostages and prisoners, and long-term peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians.” Most of his positions are standard progressive ones. No endorsements. I don’t see anything there that supports the conclusion he is stronger than Sherman.

James Shuster (R)

Interestingly, his Congressional campaign site comes up first as Shuster for Senate. So it appears he changed the office he was targeting at some point. Still, although his page states he is running for Congress, the page title is US Senate Candidate James Shuster. Hmmm…..

His campaign site doesn’t say much about positions, other than making California “Golden” again. There’s no description of his background, and no endorsements listed. There’s not much on his X page. I don’t believe he is taking this race seriously.

Brad Sherman (D) Inc

Brad Sherman has been representing this district (or the neighboring district, as two were merged a few years ago) since 1997. That’s a long time. He serves on three major House Committees. He is a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, a senior member of the House Financial Services Committee, and a member of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee. In 2019, Sherman was elected to serve as Chairman of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Investor Protection, Entrepreneurship and Capital Markets. He previously served as Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Asia Subcommittee.

I have generally agreed with his actions in office, and he has been an effective communicator with his constituents. As his campaign page notes, this would be his 14th term (i.e., he’s been in office for over 25 years). That also means he has the seniority (esp. if Democrats are in power) to make a difference. That’s something that wouldn’t be true for a clueless newbie. I agree with him on the issues. So I would need good reason to replace someone I like.

Douglas Smith (D)

Smith is a stage manager who has been active in the DGA. His platform is single position: Defund politics. His issue’s page is larger. It’s a bit rambly, but generally progressive. As with the other Democratic challengers, I don’t see anything that can challenge Sherman.

📋 Conclusion

We’ll start by writing off the Republicans. We cannot elect a Republican, because we cannot risk giving the Republicans a majority and enabling Trump if he wins. Further, the candidates they are running are inexperienced and not ready for prime time.

What about the Democrats. If someone was going to go against Sherman, they would need to be a strong candidate. That means, they would need to have experience in the State Assembly or State Senate, combined ideally with county or city experience. What do we have? Entertainment executives, stage managers, and rideshare drivers. They don’t even come close. The answer is clear: Brad Sherman (D) Inc


California Legislature

The 27th Senate District includes Agoura Hills, Calabasas, Hidden Hills, Malibu, Moorpark, Simi Valley, Thousand Oaks, Westlake Village, part of Santa Clarita and the following Los Angeles communities: Canoga Park, Chatsworth, Encino, Porter Ranch, Reseda, Lake Balboa, Tarzana, West Hills, Winnetka, and Woodland Hills. Stern has been in office since 2016, and can serve a max of 12 years in the Assembly and Senate combined. Per Wikipedia, the district breakdown is 43.46% Democratic; 27.28% Republican; and 23.45% No party preference.

Member of the State Senate, 27th District

Susan A. Collins (D)

Collins is interesting. According to her website, she is “a board member on Neighborhood Council, Chair of the Public Safety Committee, and a member of the Community Police Advisory Board”. She’s also “an active member of the Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association”. I’ve always said that politicians should start at the local level, and being on the Neighborhood Council is such a start. Her endorsements are strange: the Peace Officers Research Association of California and former Sheriff Villanueva (who was a bad apple). All the rest are at an individual level.

Her positions are not quite in alignment with mine. She writes on her campaign page: “We must withdraw from the Federal “Housing First” Policy and fund supervised, supportive housing and inpatient treatment centers using city, and state funds combined with private donations.”. Studies have shown that homelessness is helped most by getting people into housing. Thinking the homeless have mental illness is a incorrect thought.  She talks about protecting parental rights, but it doesn’t seem to be quite in the Republican sense. Other positions are OK.

⚫ Henry Stern INC (D)

As with the last election, Stern doesn’t have a campaign website. He has his State Senate site, and a Facebook page. I haven’t been that impressed with him. My wife reports that his office is not responsive, sending folks directly to voicemail asking for what staffer they want to talk to. He does appear to be effective at the State Senate level.  He’s on a fair number of committees and has introduced a lot of legislation. He took office in 2016. According to the State Senate website, “During his or her lifetime a person may serve no more than 12 years in the Senate, Assembly, or both, in any combination of terms.” 2026 would be 10 years, so he has one more four year term (2024-2028).

Lucie LaPointe Volotzky (R)

Volotzky ran for Congress in 2022, when the wrote during the primary: “No transgender should participate in our women’s sport!”. No explanation, no background. That says everything about an attitude towards transgender (the right answer, by the way, is to eliminate the distinction between men and women’s sports, and instead use strength/weight categories). She’s in favor of gun rights. She states “Let’s bring back business from China.” without providing any reason for those businesses to come back. Does she want to underpay and abuse our labor? Does she want to weaken environmental law? That’s why labor goes to China. So she’s naive.  She states “We have the highest inflation in 40 years. It was caused by printing too much money”. No, it was caused by supply chain issues, combined with unexpectedly high demand. So she doesn’t understand economics either. She’s not the right person for this job.

Revisiting her congressional website in October 2022, she wrote: “who will put America first and stand strong to defeat the radical progressive agenda hijacking our country”. That level of partisanship really doesn’t convince me, but it will play great to the Trumpublican base. I also looked at her endorsements. Our city councilman, John Lee, has endorsed her. This makes me think twice about re-electing Lee at the next election, given the endorsement indicates he agrees with her values. Other than GOP organizations, there are no other real endorsements for this race.

So what about now? This time, she writes: “She will stand against the deceitful Green New Deal, the attacks on fossil fuels, the open border, illegal immigration, human trafficking and drugs, rising crime, defunding of the police, the unconstitutional COVID-19 closures and mandates, the “woke” sexualized school system, a weakened military, the censoring of conservative speech, and foreign companies buying U.S. land.” Back in December,  she used the “America First!” phrasing, a Trumpist dogwhistle.

Her experience? According to LinkedIn: “owner at bedsunlimited”. She’s a MAGA-ite, with no experience. She was wrong for Congress in 2022; and she’s wrong for state level government.

📋 Conclusion

Back in November 2020, I wrote: Oh, how I wish Henry Stern had a campaign website touting his experience, and summarizing his positions on the issues and his legislative goals. That would make it easy to support him. Without it, I get the sense he just wants to coast to another term, depending on the overall Democratic nature of California to sweep him into office (perhaps due to the alignment of his district). And it may, because I don’t hold as much value alignment with his opponent — especially as it relates to Prop 13, Education, or his view on taxes. That lack of alignment … and the lack of other candidates, leads me to a “hold your nose” conclusion.

That logic holds out again in 2024: Oh, how I wish Henry Stern had a campaign website touting his experience, and summarizing his positions on the issues and his legislative goals. That would make it easy to support him. Without it, I get the sense he just wants to coast to another term, depending on the overall Democratic nature of California to sweep him into office (perhaps due to the alignment of his district).

I will not vote for a Trump-ish Republican. So Volotzky is out. Collins was a possibility given her start with neighborhood councils, but her position statements are problematic. So I guess I’m stuck supporting Stern for one more term, taking solace in the fact that he will term out after this term. Conclusion: ⚫ Henry Stern INC (D)


Member of the State Assembly, 40th District

The 40th Assembly District includes Santa Clarita and some northern parts of the San Fernando Valley, particularly portions of Granada Hills, Northridge and Chatsworth. Its makeup is 42.27% Democratic, 28.73% Republican, and 22.24% No party preference.  Schiavo was first elected in 2022.

Patrick Lee Gipson (R)

Gipson is a Deputy Sheriff. His platform is definitely a law and order platform. He wants to suspend the gas tax (bad idea — how do we fund roads?). He touts parental rights, and Second Amendment support.  He has the expected GOP endorsements, including John Lee. Looking at his X page,  he seems to be mostly a one-issue “tough on crime” person. The Five Thirty Eight website notes that Gipson was one of those folks who denied the legitimacy of the 2020 election. So he’s aligned with Donald Trump.

Pilar Schiavo INC (D)

As I wrote in 2022: Schiavo is a Small Business Owner and Nurse advocate, with 20 years in the labor movement, 13 of those with the California Nurses Association. She currently lives in Chatsworth.  She doesn’t appear to have prior political experience. During the primary, I didn’t like her issues page. The problem was not her positions. At a high level, they are solidly in the Democratic camp. However, they don’t show a depth of understanding of the issues, and everyone seems to be targeted with an endorsement (“… and this is why she’s endorsed by …”). Water conservation is a good example of this. Here’s what she says: “And finally, drought continues in California, with 2022 on track to be the driest year in California history. AD40 has been struggling with severe drought. We face a real threat that there may not be enough water for our local communities. Pilar will fight for state investment to ensure our community has the water we need – in water table infrastructure, rainwater capture, and water reuse. That’s why Pilar is endorsed by the Sierra Club and California Environmental Voters.” But the issue is much more complex in the district, from groundwater contamination from the Santa Suzanna labs, to the need for water for fighting brushfires. I fear she really doesn’t understand the issues well enough, but her heart is in the right place. She has strong Democratic, labor, and union backing.

Since then, she’s done OK for a newbie. She communicates well. She’s on a fair number of committees: As her page notes: “Upon her election, she was appointed as Assistant Majority Whip. She currently serves as Chair, of the Military and Veterans Affairs Committee and the Select Committee on Electric Vehicles and Charging Infrastructure, and serves on the following Committees: Emergency Management, Public Employment and Retirement, Utilities & Energy, Water, Parks & Wildlife, and on the Select Committees on LA County Homelessness, Regional Transportation Solutions, Social Housing, and Mental Health Accessibility within Non-English Speaking Communities.”  She seems responsive. She still has a large list of endorsements.

I don’t currently see problems with her.

📋 Conclusion

I cannot support someone who is aligned with Donald Trump (i.e., denying the legitimacy of the 2020 election). Schiavo has been doing a good job with the district. The answer is clear: Pilar Schiavo INC (D).


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