Primary Election Reflections.

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The card above is from my husband Todd, who always knows just what to say. :)

This has been a contest of endurance. The race began earlier for me than for anyone else. Almost 15 months ago, in fact. One year ago, to the date, on June 6, 2017, I lost my mother to cancer. That was a blow. I remember it like it was yesterday. I spent that evening at an Iftar dinner, comforted by the warm embrace of friends in the North County Islamic Community.
A day later I was speaking to a local Democratic club. I could not remember my candidate speech to save my life, so I stood up and talked about my mother—about who she was, and the progressive values she instilled in me by example. She didn’t call them “progressive values.” She just considered how we treat others to be a simple matter of right and wrong. She endured no bullies and took no prisoners. She was a force of nature. 

It was especially bittersweet to get the most reliable election results after midnight—on June 6—indicating that I would finish at least in the top 2, if not in first place. I know my mom was smiling up in heaven and thinking “told you so!”  She was my biggest cheerleader. She believed that public service was something I was meant to do. In the summer and fall, two of our children got married. I attended the ceremonies, but missed all the parties, showers and other events leading up to the big days. Just before Christmas, we were evacuated due to the fires that raged through North County. Packing and unpacking campaign paperwork along with our most valued possessions added another degree of difficulty. But we persevered. Just after the holidays I caught a nasty flu with an on-again, off-again fever that lasted nearly a month—forcing me to cancel two crucial endorsement meetings. You win some, you lose some.

I wanted to share something meaningful with family, friends and supporters right away yesterday. But in all honesty, I was stunned. (And exhausted.) No one expected me to do so well. The odds were against it. I was not the most sophisticated candidate. I made tactical mistakes. I was candid on every issue. We didn’t raise a ton of money. And I didn’t have half the elected officials in the county (and elsewhere in the state) endorsing my candidacy or holding high-ticket fundraisers.

Ours has been a scrappy, grassroots campaign. But there was something I underestimated: the power of people. For those who know me, that’s funny, given that it’s something I’ve spent years as an activist preaching. That money in politics only has the power we give it. It is only influential when the voters are willing to be influenced. When we speak directly to each other, to fellow voters, and are educated on the issues, we become inured to slick marketing efforts. We can decide for ourselves if a candidate’s policies align with our own values or if they’re just blowing smoke.

So many people, having so many conversations—that’s what made the difference. I want to thank my wonderful husband Todd Warren, whose devotion knows no bounds. Todd is not “political,” but we share the same values. He got involved because I got in the race and he loves me. Every person should have a partner this committed.

Our three kids and their partners were also on board, from a distance, and even contributed. My siblings helped—especially my brother Chris. And friends, near and far, pitched in their time, money and talents to help us move forward. On my Facebook Page I recently ran lists of “unsung heroes.” There are more to come—too many to list in a single essay—but I want to acknowledge a few here. Please forgive me if I missed you. Along with our endorsers and donors there were many volunteers and some (very underpaid) staff, such as Brett Fisher, who helped launch our fundraising efforts and will be guiding us to victory in November. Micah Perlin set up our website. Nicole Eccles jumped in over the holidays and helped with events and volunteers as well as general management; Carol Gendel took over in the spring and managed scheduling, events and volunteers. Thanks to our media team of Sue Wilson (who produced our video), Pat Pickett, Emilianne Slaydon, my daughter Lauren, CDP Progressive Caucus board member Cari Templeton, Duncan McEwan (who shot and edited our video); policy advisers Andrea Miller, Bill Honigman, Russell Greene, Mike Bullock, Celeste Drake, Eve Simmons, and messaging guru and education and healthcare advocate Kathy Rallings. Thanks to all who supported us, hosted meet and greets and phone banks, and made sure to disseminate information. Special thanks to Sue Alderson, Karen Bernal, RL Miller, Lauren Steiner, Marge Kealey, Carol Skiljan, Mark Wisniewski, PJ Duke, Nikki Leeds, Marggie Castellano, Cipriano Vargas, Carol Law, Maria McEneany, Cecily Resnick, Andrea Cunningham, Jim Hesson and Eveline Farias Hesson; Wendy Wutzke, Scott and Siena Haustein, John and Lorraine; Sabrina Kaplan, Josie Shepard, Susan Peinado and John Loughlin; Danielle White, Margaret Lynn, Mustafa and Tazeen Nizam; Tom Shaffer and Jeanne Guidry;  Lauren and Larry Kornit; Caroline Theiss-Aird, Bob Hemphill, Lorri Greene, Joy and Jerry Singleton, Mim Michelov and Chaz Ackerman, Donna Renczak and Vince Loughney; Bev and Paul Vaidya, Lynda Daniels, Sally Foster, Betsy Barnhart, Eric Joyce, Kyle Bright, Chyann Cox, Codi Viera, Andrea Beth Damsky, Chris Barroso and Beth Hermann, Susie Hovsepian, Joseph Kashkanian, Haig Baghdasarian, Serob Abrahamian, Linda and Noel Breen, Gary and Pam Bland, Barbara Mead and Crocker Price, Lisa Shaffer and Steve Bartram, Caeley Gomez and Liz Rasmussen; Elaine Cefola; Madge and Arturo Torres; Laura and Robert Cunningham, Leslie Davies. Amber and Dave Newman, Esther Sanchez, Chuck Lowery, Doug Applegate, Ruben Major, Ellen, Mark, and Rachel Bartlett, Sarah Lifton, Terra Lawson-Remer, Cody Petterson, Lisa Nava, Will Rodriguez-Kennedy, Gayle McLaughlin, Christine Love Jackson, Rena Marrocco, Frank at Mitchell Printing, Manny at the Line Printing Company, Marshall Klavons. Ben Burley, Chris Crotty, Gary Gartner, and our treasurer, Deane and Company.

“You’ve won the primary. What are you going to do now?” That question has come up several times over the past 24 hours and I have said (only half joking): “I’m going to Disneyland—to demand they pay their fair share in property taxes!”

California has a grand tradition of introducing great legislation—and having it killed by corporate lobbyists in Sacramento when it threatens to impose regulations or diminish profits. When it affects the necessities of life—healthcare, housing, education, public utilities—I draw a line in the sand. That’s the main reason I’m running. It’s time that working people and our small businesses stop being nickel and dimed into poverty.

With respect to the not-so-magic kingdom: reforming Prop 13 would yield an estimated $9 billion in tax revenue from big corporations such as Disney, that under the current  “loophole” in the law (put in place to protect homeowners) continue to escape paying their share of taxes based on the current value of their property. This is money we could use to fund necessary infrastructure. There is no reason we can’t review the tax rolls to find these “corporate freeloaders” and design a way to capture a fair share of revenue from them without placing any new burden on homeowners or other businesses already paying their share.

Then there’s the issue of saving single-payer healthcare. Just saying healthcare for all doesn’t necessarily mean single-payer. There are many advocates for a plan that keeps private insurance companies in the mix. I stand, unequivocally, for removing the profit skimming “partners” (namely private insurance and the price-gouging pharmaceutical companies) from healthcare delivery now—not later. To those who say, “how can we afford it?” I offer this answer: if we are spending 10 cents on healthcare now, we shouldn’t have a problem spending 8 cents.

While the source of some funding may shift, net cost to the public will be less—not more—than what we are currently paying in premiums, deductibles, co-pays and uncovered healthcare expenses. We can get more healthcare services for our healthcare dollar when we eliminate nonessential middlemen. After a small portion for administration – roughly less than 5% – the rest will go to actual care. (Not to investors, not to marketing, not to lobbyists, not to seven-figure executive compensation.)

We must remove profit skimming from funding for essential services—beginning with healthcare and including education, infrastructure, public utilities, and law enforcement. A responsible government looks out for its residents—it does not cater to foreign investors or cave to industry lobbyists. We need to deliver services AT COST. This is an issue you’ll hear me talk about more as the campaign progresses. And make no mistake—I will go to the mat to protect working people. Because the health and well-being of California’s residents is not something that should be bargained away for political gain. We all deserve better.

Much has been said about this historic 2-Democrat race. I look forward to sharing our policy positions and letting the voters decide which vision resonates the most. We plan to walk and knock a lot more between now and November. We plan to phone bank and do other outreach. I have vowed to continue running a clean, issues-focused campaign, as has my opponent.  Voters may look forward to a non-toxic campaign season—one  in which everyone can feel good about engaging.

Thanks to all who’ve helped us come this far. We have a long road ahead and miles to go before we sleep. I promise you I will work doubly hard these next five months. With so much at stake, there is no other option. Together, we CAN make a difference.

In Solidarity,

Elizabeth Warren

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