Why I’m Supporting Delaine Eastin (Part 2)

Last month I wrote a piece that I published here on Medium about why I’m supporting Delaine Eastin’s candidacy to become the 40th American Governor of California. The response I received was largely positive. I did receive some questions and pushback from a number of friends and family members that I want to address here. I’m going to take each of these “buts” on one by one.

“But she has no chance.” “But she is not a viable candidate.”

I’m going to be totally honest. These responses crushed me a bit because they came from friends who I love and respect.

But these are words we’ve heard before. This year alone we’ve heard that Democrats in Virginia had no chance to win a gerrymandered House of Delegates and that a Democrat would not be a viable candidate for statewide office in Alabama. We should not discount what is possible at this moment in American politics.

If we continue to elect conventional candidates who fund their campaigns with the money of millionaires and billionaires, we can’t expect different results. If you’re happy with the status quo in California, then vote for one of the guys. They’re capable politicians and they are hoovering up major campaign contributions across the state.

The style of politics they represent has largely been rejected by the people of this state. Only 40% of registered voters (and 30% of eligible voters) turned out for the last gubernatorial election in 2014. This dismal result represents the continuation of a long-term trend. As more and more money has been spent on campaigns, fewer people are participating. The Public Policy Institute of California looked at this issue and concluded:

“Spending on state elections has increased dramatically whereas the turnout of registered voters has steadily declined, reflecting the public’s dissatisfaction with political candidates and the types of campaigns they wage.”

Why am I focusing on money in my response here? Because when people say she has no chance or that she isn’t viable, I think it is money that typically informs this opinion. It is hard to blame people for having this opinion. So much of the media coverage of this race (and others) is focused on polling and fundraising. Delaine doesn’t need the most money to win. She needs enough. And she is raising it the right way: through small dollar donations from people like you and me. I’m supporting her because she is running a different type of campaign that I know will inspire others the way it has inspired me.

“But I don’t have kids, so education isn’t important to me.”

I’m going to let Delaine herself respond to this one because she does it better than anyone else:

Still not convinced?

Do you care about civil rights? There is a reason President Obama called education the “civil rights issue of our time.”

Do you want this state and its people to be responsive to a rapidly changing economy? In January of this year, The Economist published a special report called “Lifelong Learning is Becoming an Economic Imperative.” Their conclusion is simple:

“To remain competitive, and to give low- and high-skilled workers alike the best chance of success, economies need to offer training and career-focused education throughout people’s working lives.”

Simply put, education is important. Now more than ever. Delaine is the only candidate that is making it a priority.

“But she is a one issue candidate.”

This couldn’t be further from the truth. In addition to education and child development, Delaine is also talking about the other issues that are important to Californians: housing, healthcare, infrastructure, and the environment.

Her experience proves she is not a single-issue candidate. Delaine served eight years in the Assembly before being elected Superintendent of Public Instruction. While in the Assembly she chaired the Education Committee, but she also served on the Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee, the Revenue and Taxation Committee, the Transportation Committee, and the Governmental Efficiency and Consumer Protection Committee (which she also chaired before taking the reins of Education). She has significant legislative accomplishments in education, the environment, transportation and consumer affairs.

She is a smart policy-maker. Her proposals have been lauded by editorial boards across California. Here’s a good example: In 1990, Delaine wrote a bill (AB 3426) to address water issues in the state. The bill was vetoed by the then-Governor, but it received wide-spread support. Here’s what the Los Angeles Times editorial board had to say about it :

“But I am mostly concerned about the economy.”

Let me share something that Robert Reich just wrote in Newsweek about economic growth in response to the Republican tax plan:

I have a hard time arguing with the Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley. The only thing I would add to his list of growth drivers (for California in particular) would be housing. With Delaine’s expertise in education and transportation, her support of universal healthcare, and her proposals on housing, she is uniquely positioned among the candidates for governor to drive economic growth through smart policy-making.

“But I am a conservative.”

And Delaine Eastin is not. But in my view, she is the best candidate for a conservative to support in this election. Let’s get real for a moment. The next Governor of California will be a liberal Democrat. As a conservative, who would you rather see in the Governor’s Mansion? A Democrat beholden to the millionaires and billionaires that fund his campaign or one that will remain free from that kind of influence? I think the question answers itself.

One thing I’ve learned about Delaine is that she stays true to who she is. What you see and hear is what you get. And that is one of the reasons her support over the years has been broad-based.

When she first ran for the Assembly she was told that she was too liberal for the district. She won by being herself and staying true to her beliefs. Even when the Republican Party put a target on her back, she continued to win reelection in (what was considered at the time to be) a swing district. Again, she did this by being herself and staying true to her beliefs.

As you would imagine, she has received a lot of support from the teachers’ union over the years, but that has never stopped her from opposing them or other groups when necessary. Like the late, great Shirley Chisholm, she is unbought and unbossed.

Another thing that has impressed me about Delaine’s record is that she has always worked to ensure that tax dollars are being spent wisely and efficiently. She repeatedly partnered with her Republican colleagues in the legislature to sponsor legislation that eliminated bureaucracy and waste. What conservative wouldn’t applaud that?

“But you are gay.”

Yes. I am. This response has come from friends who believe that if you are a LGBT person then there is only one candidate to choose in this race. That’s not the way I see things. An ally — and there are some fantastic allies in this race — is an ally. Delaine is no less of an ally than any of the other Democratic candidates for governor.

She supported anti-discrimination legislation while she was serving in the legislature. She was the first Superintendent of Public Instruction to march in the San Francisco Gay Pride Parade. As Superintendent, she launched the first LGBT Task Force to develop and implement practices to ensure a safe and supportive environment for LGBT students. As a UC Regent, she stood with University of California leadership to ensure domestic partner benefits were available when the then-Governor tried to reverse that right.

Delaine has been an ally for a long time, even when it might have been politically risky for her. When she was running for the Assembly for the first time, she stood with the LGBT community to defeat Proposition 64, one of the many discriminatory ballot measures we’ve faced. Here’s a photo from that campaign; Delaine is the second from the right.

“But you are from Los Angeles.”

Yes. I am. This response has come from friends who believe that if you are an Angeleno then there is only one candidate to choose in this race. To that I say, “How provincial!”

I’m going to conclude this as simply as I can. As a product of the public schools, colleges and universities of this state, I’m fighting for Delaine Eastin because she has fought for me. She has a compelling vision for the future and she rightly believes that we can do better for our children and for ALL Californians.


Cooper, H. (2011, April 6). Obama Takes Aim at Inequality in Education. The New York Times. Retrieved December 21, 2017, from http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/07/us/politics/07obama.html

Editorial Board. (1990, May 10). Wringing Out Weird Notions. Los Angeles Times, p. 49.

Lifelong learning is becoming an economic imperative. (2017, January 12). The Economist. Retrieved December 21, 2017, from https://www.economist.com/news/special-report/21714169-technological-change-demands-stronger-and-more-continuous-connections-between-education

Public Policy Institute of California. (2004). Voters’ Views of Politics in California: Dissatisfaction, Distrust, and Withdrawal (PPIC Research Brief, Rep. №96).

Reich, R. B. (2017, December 2). This Massive Tax Cut for the Rich Won’t Spur Growth. Newsweek. Retrieved December 21, 2017, from http://www.newsweek.com/robert-reich-massive-tax-cut-rich-wont-spur-growth-729433

Defeat of Proposition 64 celebration [Photograph]. (n.d.). Ted Sahl Collection, San José State University, Special Collections and Archives , San José . Retrieved from http://digitalcollections.sjlibrary.org/cdm/ref/collection/sjsusahl/id/595 (Originally photographed 1986)