Against odds that the Public Policy Institute of California pegged at 200 to 1, I ran as a Republican in California Assembly District 25, which takes in central and eastern San José.
The Republican registration in this district of some half-million residents was 15.68% shortly before the November 2022 election. I garnered 29.96% of the vote in November, almost doubling the natural base.
I emphasized the need to treat the legions of schizophrenic and drug-dependent homeless who wander our streets. I also emphasized the state Legislature’s regular moves to whittle down our criminal laws—an ongoing effort that recently included legislation to reduce some injury- producing strong-arm robberies to petty-theft misdemeanors.
My district is diverse. Figures vary, but one source puts the population of voting-age citizens at 34.4% Latino, 38.4% Asian-American and 3.6% Black. I did well in parts of southeast San José, an area with substantial ethnic Asian and south Asian populations. Latinos were also receptive: in some areas I campaigned in Spanish. My most dismal result may have been in Naglee Park, the wealthy and not particularly diverse enclave east of downtown.
Knowing that winning was unlikely, I ran to stimulate debate. The Legislature’s Democratic supermajority seems well to the left of the average Californian and acts accordingly. The Economist magazine noted recently that “there are 37 ‘trifecta’ states, about double the number in 1992.” California is one such state, with Democrats controlling both legislative chambers and the governorship. Such states can “create partisan policy experiments that do not reflect voters’ will.” All too true in Sacramento.
I thought I would get coverage to energize the debate I sought. But aside from a 20-minute interview on community television, I got none, despite ardent efforts. I was ghosted by both the legacy media and newer outlets. I submitted an op-ed to and/or requested an interview with public-radio station KQED, KCBS radio, the San José Mercury News, the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Francisco Examiner, the San José Spotlight and San José Inside online news services, and local TV stations. None replied.
Had the media shown interest, I would have pointed out that my opponent, the incumbent Assembly member, was one of two in the 120-member legislature to vote against the new California CARE courts act, which, depending on how it’s interpreted, funded, and applied, will allow courts to compel gravely disabled homeless people to enter inpatient treatment programs.
(There are ominous signs that, like the much-ballyhooed but ultimately ineffective Laura’s Law, the CARE courts act will prove to be toothless. But it’s too early to tell.)
Running for the Assembly was supremely rewarding. Talking with people was the most exhilarating aspect of my run. I visited some 12,000 households. I heard astounding stories, commiserated with people who’ve suffered unspeakable losses, and got to know most neighborhoods in this sprawling city, the nation’s tenth largest. It was a blast. I may run again.
- What It’s Like to Run for Assembly as a Republican in San José - February 2, 2023