At the October IEB All Member Meeting, members participated in a respectful and productive opening discussion about the 2018 Senate race. After folks called out issues important to them we all voted for our top three choices. Not surprisingly, people shared overwhelming concerns about healthcare, immigration, and voting rights.Amelia Cass, IEB’s Member of Congress lead and Senator Feinstein expert gave a synopsis of Feinstein’s positions on the top issues, and invited the audience to contribute their thoughts about California Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de Léon and other candidates.
Senator Feinstein has said she favors universal healthcare, but has demurred on single payer, saying she’s not yet ready to commit. At a recent meeting with Senator Feinstein’s staff, IEB learned that implementation (funding, rollout, and transition to) of a single payer system is one of the problems preventing her endorsement, and that she has not yet seen a reasonable, feasible plan that would get California where it needs to go toward a fair healthcare system. In contrast, Kevin de Léon has stated that he supports CA healthcare for all, and in a tweet said that California should have two senators behind Health Care For All. Another candidate for the Senate seat, David Hildebrand, is a Democratic Socialist and self-described “Berniecrat” who is solidly behind single payer. At present, so early in the race, little is known about the other candidates.
One IEB member stated that “if you want single payer or medical care for all, young people need to be involved to create the economics to drive it forward.” Sharing her experience working on the California healthcare bill, another member described how difficult it was to balance moving forward on a bill and being able to explain everything that is going to happen with it.
The son of a single immigrant mother, Kevin de Léon was an author of SB 54, the California Sanctuary State bill. The bill went through several iterations before Governor Brown signed it, which some advocates believe severely weakened the bill.
Senator Feinstein has spoken out strongly in favor of the DREAM Act and other pro-immigration bills; however, she has hinted that she might accept additional border security measures and some are concerned that she might compromise more than may be necessary.
IEB Governance Committee member Katie added that if the final DREAM Act includes other legislation, it may be worth considering how Senator Feinstein votes, if not for a “clean DREAM Act” for which most immigrants’ rights groups have advocated. Candidates should be explicit in what they will and won’t accept. In contrast, Senator Kamala Harris has stated she won’t support any end-of-year spending package without a clean DREAM Act.
Members suggested that further discussions could separate immigration into two issues: comprehensive reform and a path to citizenship. Senators Harris and Feinstein have offered legislation that would protect undocumented farmworkers in California from deportation and create a path to citizenship.
Interestingly, California is one of the few states which has an independent, non-partisan commission draw its district lines, instituted by ballot proposition in 2011. At the national level, after the Supreme Court curtailed the federal Voting Rights Act, a critical tool to prevent discriminatory voting practices, several states have created serious obstacles to voting, including voter ID and registration restrictions, cutbacks on early voting, closing polling places in minority neighborhoods, and more. A member suggested examining the candidates’ opinions on the districting commission.
This was the first of what we’re sure will be several conversations about the 2018 Senate race. Future discussions will examine the remaining issues suggested during the meeting.
Votes for each suggested issue:
- Healthcare – 15
- Immigration – 15
- Voting rights/gerrymandering – 15
- Environment/climate change – 13
- Reproductive rights/women’s rights – 10
- Campaign donors/transparency – 10
- Judicial appointments – 8
- Public schools & charterization – 7
- Lobbying/corporate money – 5
- Racial justice – 5
- Impeachment – 5
- Criminal Justice – 3
- Labor – 3
- Second amendment – 2
- LGBTQIA+ rights – 2
- Accessibility to elected officials – 1
- Minimum wage – 1
- Disability rights – 1