On June 8th, Californians will choose our party nominees for Governor. I'm running as a
progressive challenger to Jerry Brown in the Democratic primary.
For nearly twenty years, I've been a bare-knuckled fighter for regular
people and common-sense, progressive values. I was the Founding Executive
Director at MoveOn.org, America's strongest progressive advocacy organization.
Although I've never run for elected office, I am qualified to be Governor,
and here's why I'll do a better job for California than Jerry Brown.
California needs a fighter right now. Six-plus years of Republican rule
have left our state in crisis. We need a leader committed to aggressively
confronting and cleaning up the mess the Republicans have made, not
someone who wants to split the difference.
Here are three of the biggest challenges facing California. As our party's
front-runner, Jerry Brown should be facing these issues head-on. Instead,
he's running away from them.
California, the golden
state, has a larger economy than all but 7 countries -- yet our government
is broke, and regular people are struggling to make ends meet. Every
day we hear another story of budget cuts to vital state programs. The
human costs of these cuts include schools cramming almost 40 of our
children into single classrooms, domestic violence shelters closing,
massive tuition hikes at our public colleges, and thousands of layoffs
from our Healthy Families program. Why are we letting this happen?
We have a choice. Instead
of rolling over and accepting these cuts, we can raise the $19 billion
we need to turn our beautiful state around. We can do it mainly by making
the oil companies, the big commercial property owners, the corporations,
and the richest people pay their fair share -- which none of them are
doing today. We can also legalize and tax marijuana, tax services like
lawyers as we do physical goods, and end incentive programs that aren't
my website, I've laid out a specific plan
to raise the $19 billion
it will take to close our ongoing budget deficit and stop the cuts,
so we can start taking care of our children instead of the oil companies
and real-estate tycoons.
I will do this without raising the burden on struggling Californians.
In fact, I'll make things easier for people in the lowest income bracket,
because right now they're
paying a bigger share of their income than anyone else, and I'll change that by making the
big guys start pulling their weight.
Budget cuts and the $19 billion deficit driving them are arguably the
most serious problems facing our state. What's Jerry Brown's answer?
He has none. He says only that he won't raise taxes. He may think that's
smart politics, but it's not the kind of leadership we need.
You might think we have
a democracy in Sacramento, settling our differences by majority vote.
In fact, we don't. Instead, Sacramento has a 2/3 rule that gives the
Republican minority the power to hold our state's finances hostage,
even though we elect solid majorities of Democrats to represent us.
Republicans exploit this power ruthlessly, preventing us from raising
the revenues we need, because their Wall Street backers don't want to
pay their fair share. It's one of the biggest reasons our state's in
such a deep hole.
We've got to end the 2/3
rule and get the Republican boot off our neck. There's just no way around
You'd think Jerry Brown would agree. But, incredibly, he's taken steps
this spring to sabotage
the campaign to end the 2/3 rule.
As Attorney General, he changed the wording of an important ballot initiative
in a way that scares people away from standing up for our rights.
I support ending the 2/3 rule, and so do 70% of Californians. But Jerry
Brown is carrying water for the Republicans, not fighting for us.
Our health care system
is a mess. The problem is the health insurance companies. They are parasites,
sucking up massive sums of money, and giving us paperwork, rate hikes,
and denials of coverage in return. Although President Obama's new health
care law reins in some of their worst abuses, it also perpetuates the
problem, by forcing us to buy their inadequate products, and offering
no other option.
A better answer is "Medicare
for All", also known as single-payer health care, the most robust
form of the "public option" that Californians asked for. It's
simple and elegant: by getting the insurance companies out of the way,
we get better care, and we save tons of money.
With Medicare for All, the average California family will save more
than $300 per year. Employers who insure their workers will save almost
$800 per employee per year - freeing that money up to hire more people.
California as a whole will save $8 billion in the first year, and $343
billion over ten years.
The California Senate has passed our Medicare for All bill, SB 810 (sponsored
by Senator Mark Leno). The state assembly has passed similar legislation
in recent years. I'm committed to signing it if I'm elected Governor.
Sadly, Jerry Brown refuses to make the same commitment.
California needs a leader we
can count on: one whose values are clear, and who fights for us reliably.
I love this state, and I'm fighting for it with everything I've got.
But with all of Jerry Brown's experience, if he's not willing to stand
up and fight for us, what makes me think I can?
Take a look at my track record:
- Stopping President Bush: As MoveOn's Executive Director, I ran the campaign that defeated President Bush for the very first time after 9-11, when the U.S. Senate rejected his choices for judges on America's top courts.
- Stopping President Bush again: Working closely with Hill leaders including Rep. Henry Waxman, I led MoveOn's campaign that defeated President Bush's 2004 budget in the House, despite Republican control there.
- Protecting our Climate: I organized most of the grassroots support to pass California's car emissions law, AB 1493, which was the basis for President Obama's excellent new nationwide clean-car rules.
- Getting Corporate Money out of our Political System: I also organized the bulk of the grassroots support to pass the McCain-Feingold law, banning corporate "soft money" from our political system.
- Protecting People from Air Pollution: Working for the American Lung Association, I persuaded several states to release their air pollution data in real time, so people with asthma can plan their days in safety.
- Protecting the California Desert: At the Sierra Club, I helped secure crucial final votes to pass the California Desert Protection Act, the only major pro-environment law passed in the Clinton Administration.
- Helping Eliminate the U.S. Budget Deficit: I helped run a young people's campaign in 1992 that put deficit reduction at the front of the national agenda, helping spur President Clinton to balance the budget.
- As MoveOn.org's Founding Executive Director (2001-2005), I grew the organization from 350,000 to 3 million members, and grew its budget from $81,000 to $6.5 million. I built a solid team, paid them competitive salaries, kept the books in order, and led MoveOn's millions of members in winning several game-changing victories over the Bush administration.
- As the Sierra Club's first National Student Organizer, in the mid-1990s, I secured permanent funding for the Sierra Student Coalition, recruited and trained a corps of skilled student campaign leaders, and created new ways to engage 30,000 students in campaigns like protecting millions of acres of the Mojave Desert as wilderness.
These are just a few examples
of the difference I've made fighting for progressive values since the
early 1990s. My background, defeating Republican power and moving a
positive agenda in the face of an entrenched opposition, is exactly
the kind of leadership experience we need in our next Governor.
Governing California will require management chops too. I have an M.B.A.
from Yale, and my management skill is reflected in the enduring strength
of organizations I've built:
My values are clear and consistent,
and I've fought for them reliably over nearly twenty years.
I don't owe favors to anyone, because I've always fought for the public
interest, against the corporations, and I've never taken big money from
any industry. Can Jerry Brown say the same thing?
Does Jerry Brown have what it takes to fight for us?
Let's look at one more major
example: California's climate-change action plan, known as AB 32. AB
32 is state law, democratically passed and signed by Governor Schwarzenegger.
But Meg Whitman is promising that if she's elected, her first move will
be to undo it. She's working for Texas oil companies, not California's
What does Jerry Brown have to say about this? He mounts a tepid defense of
AB 32, saying he sees room for "adjustments."
Here's what I say about it:
Meg Whitman's assault on
AB 32 is utterly insane. Undoing AB 32 not only threatens our survival,
but it cuts the floorboards out from under our emerging clean-tech economy.
Building the new green economy will require investment, and investors
need stability, not see-sawing. Whitman is putting California at risk
of blowing the greatest economic opportunity of this decade: green jobs.
Her attack on AB 32 is like going back 30 years and saying we shouldn't
develop the Internet. Where would eBay be today?
This is the kind of vigorous fight against Meg Whitman and the Republicans
that California needs.
With Whitman promising to spend at least $150 million from her Goldman
Sachs bank account, Democrats need a candidate we can get excited about,
one who can inspire the votes we'll need to win in November.
Jerry Brown has a long record of service to our state. But today, he's
not taking the leadership stands we need. Is it any wonder that, according
to a recent poll, 41
percent of people under 40 have no opinion of him?
We can do better.
I have the skills, the values, and the experience to lead our state
successfully through the challenges we face today. I've won major victories
on behalf of regular people and common-sense values, and I've built
powerful, enduring organizations.
Vote for progress on June 8th -- or as early as next week, if you vote
by mail. Join my campaign for California's future on
Facebook, on Twitter, and at http://Peter4Gov.org. Thank you.
Follow Peter Schurman on Twitter: www.twitter.com/pschurman