Earlier this year, I ran for the California State Senate. Drawing upon my bipartisan experience working with both the Bush and Obama Administrations to protect the American people after the 9/11 attacks, I ran as an Independent, No Party Preference (NPP) candidate - fighting to break down partisan barriers and unify Democrats, Republicans, and Independents around an inclusive agenda for California's future. Throughout the campaign, we sought to engage and inspire people to reach across ideological lines, put partisanship aside, and join together as Californians to solve the problems - such as bad schools, rising inequality, a stagnant economy, and a political system dominated by special interests - that could prevent the next generation from achieving greatness.
Unfortunately, we lost - but only barely, thanks to the over 20,000 people who supported us with their votes, thereby making a strong statement that we need to shake up California politics, and pull together regardless of party to address California's most important challenges.
Losing hurts, but the silver lining is that I was edged out by two extremely worthy candidates, both of whom I am proud to call my friends - Ben Allen and Sandra Fluke. Both Ben and Sandra are excellent people, who I am confident, if elected, would serve our district well in the State Senate. But I have decided to stand with Sandra Fluke, and let me tell you why.
It is no secret that Ben, Sandra, and I disagree on a variety of policy issues. We have different thoughts on how our economy might be revitalized, on how to improve California's business climate, on how to reform our education system, among many other issues. But that's OK - and indeed, that was the point of my NPP campaign. We may disagree on key points, but we can also agree to reach across ideological lines and partisan barriers to find common ground, drawing upon the best ideas and the brightest minds from across the political spectrum. This was the key lesson I drew from working with both Republicans and Democrats to protect the nation after the 9/11 attacks.
Furthermore, Ben, Sandra, and I agree strongly on other issues, such as the need to protect immigrants' rights, protect our environment, stand up for gender equity, and support LGBT rights and marriage equality, among many other issues. And we share core values on the need to reduce inequality and strengthen the ladders of opportunity for every Californian.
In short, there aren't any real policy differences between Ben and Sandra. So, why give the edge to Sandra? For two reasons. First, I admire Sandra's quick policy mind and her passion. She has chosen to make the sacrifices necessary to enter public life in order to do something, and to make the world a better place for all of us. Surely, Sandra and I disagree on many issues. But there's no mystery or fudge as to where Sandra stands. What you see is what you get. I may not be able to convince her on some issues, but I know Sandra will be a smart public servant who will be open to new ideas, new circumstances, and debate. She will be candid with us about what she believes in - and then work across party lines to fight for it and stand up for our community, regardless of the personal consequences. This will make her a true leader, and extremely effective in Sacramento.
Second, I am the father of a 12 year old girl - Nadia. And when I think about Sandra Fluke, I also think about Nadia, and the strong, independent, principled, idealistic woman I want her to become. Sandra's bravery, determination, and toughness in the face of the media storm she has endured over the last few years are inspiring - to me, to Nadia, and to millions of women and girls around the country - and Sandra will need this toughness to stand up to the special interests and corrupting forces in Sacramento and do what's right. This is what makes Sandra's candidacy so compelling, and inspires me to stand with her.
During the campaign, I often cited an old World War I recruiting poster featuring a Dad with kids on his knee, asking: "Daddy, what did YOU do during the Great War?" As a dad, this is how I've felt about the challenges facing California, our country, and the next generation - a potential "greatest generation" more diverse, connected, and amazing than any that has come before it. We are in a fight for their future, and to make sure their opportunities match their promise.
I am confident that Sandra Fluke understands this fight, and will be a champion for this next "greatest generation" to the core of her being. She will be a citizen politician, not beholden to special interests, willing to work with people across the ideological spectrum, and she will inspire others to follow her example. For these reasons, I stand with Sandra.
Seth M.M. Stodder ran in the June 3, 2014 primary as an Independent No Party Preference (NPP) candidate for the California State Senate, 26th District.