Left out

Progressive candidates for governor have a hard time amplifying their calls for economic justice

Green Party candidate Luis Rodriguez, Peace and Freedom Party candidate Cindy Sheehan, and Gov. Jerry Brown.
AP Photos by Jae C. Hong and Rich Pedroncelli


It's never been easy for progressives to mount a serious campaign for the California governor's office. The high water mark was in 1934 when famous author/activist Upton Sinclair ran on his End Poverty In California platform and got nearly 38 percent of the vote despite being shut out by the major newspapers at the time.

That campaign was cited by both of this year's leading leftist challengers to Gov. Jerry Brown — Green Party candidate Luis Rodriguez and Peace and Freedom Party candidate Cindy Sheehan — who say the goal of ending poverty is more important than ever, but who are also having a hard time getting media coverage for that message.

The latest Field Poll from April 9 shows Brown with a 40-point lead on his closest challenger, conservative Republican Tim Donnelly (57 to 17 percent, with 20 percent undecided). Republicans Andrew Blount and Neel Kashkari were at 3 and 2 percent, respectively, while Rodriguez and Sheehan are among the 11 also-rans who shared the support of 1 percent of the California electorate.

Perhaps that's to be expected given that Brown is a Democrat who pulled the state back from the edge of the fiscal abyss largely by backing the Prop. 30 tax package in 2012, with most of the new revenue coming from increased income taxes on the rich. But to hear Rodriguez and Sheehan tell it, Brown is just another agent of the status quo at a time when the growing gap between rich and poor is the state's most pressing problem.

"We have to put all our resources into ending poverty," Rodriguez told us.

The campaigns that Rodriguez and Sheehan are running seem indicative of the state of progressive politics in California these days, with good work being done on individual issues by an array of groups, but little coordination among them or serious work on the kind of organizing and coalition-building needed to win statewide office.

There is still hope, particularly given California's open primary system, where all Rodriguez or Sheehan need to do is beat the top Republican challenger in June in order to face Brown in a two-person race in November — an outcome that would definitely elevate their progressive message.

"One of our sayings is 'second place wins the race,'" Sheehan told the Guardian.

But at this point, that seems unlikely, a longshot that points to the need for progressive-minded Californians to rebuild the movement and win over new generations of voters, particularly the young people disconnected from electoral politics and largely behind by the economic system.



When we asked Sheehan how her campaign was going, she replied, "It's going." When we pushed for a bit more, she told us, "It's very, very grassroots and we've been trying to get the word out."

And by "very, very grassroots," Sheehan seems to mean that it's not going very well, in terms of fundraising, volunteer support, media exposure, or any of the things a campaign needs to be successful. It's been a disappointment for a woman who started her public political life as a media darling.

The year after Sheehan's son Casey died fighting the Iraq War in 2004, she set up an encampment outside then-President George W. Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas, instantly becoming a high-profile anti-war activist just as public opinion was turning strongly against the war.

Sheehan parlayed that fame into international activism for peace and other progressive causes, writing a pair of autobiographical/political books, and mounting a primary challenge against then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi in 2008, finishing in second place with about 16 percent of the vote. Sheehan was also the running mate of presidential candidate Roseanne Barr in 2012, although their Peace and Freedom Party ticket didn't appear on the ballot in most states.


Posted by Guest on Apr. 24, 2014 @ 9:14 am

The solution to poverty is to create more wealth, and not too attack those who succeed.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 24, 2014 @ 9:37 am

25% do not have an opinion on who did 911.

46% believe it was the Al-Quada branch of the CIA that did it.

So, do the math, 72% believe it was a CIA inside job.

There are a million people in California who believe it was an inside job.
So those million may vote for Cindy.

Posted by Paul Kangas on Apr. 24, 2014 @ 1:35 pm

No one ever became poor betting against the wisdom of the American public.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 24, 2014 @ 2:55 pm

Be truthful. Today, less than 1% believe the earth is flat.

Posted by Paul Kangas on Apr. 24, 2014 @ 3:18 pm

"22% believe it was the CIA.
25% do not have an opinion on who did 911.

46% believe it was the Al-Quada branch of the CIA that did it."

Where the hell did you get these numbers??? Lemme guess. 9/11 truther website? I guess if you did poll the people who visited those sites, you'd come up with 72% believing it was a CIA job.

As for your "million people in California who believe it was an inside job". Most of those nutcases distrust the government and would vote anyway.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 24, 2014 @ 3:44 pm

Have you seen Cindy's new bumper sticker:

"I believe 911 was an inside job --- and I vote!"
She has sold 5,000 of these stickers.

Cindy also has: "I support legal abortions in Texas -- and I vote!"

I guess that refers to Bush's mom should have had an abortion, because her 3 off spring were all Frankenstein monster.
Never underestimate what drive people to vote.
Voting changes nothing.

Posted by Paul Kangas on Apr. 24, 2014 @ 5:12 pm

Just because you bought 5,000 of her bumper stickers doesn't mean she has a lot of support. And if you're representative of the people who would vote for her, no wonder people think she's nuttier than a fruitcake.

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Posted by dimagrire in fretta on Aug. 04, 2014 @ 6:12 am

Cindy is like the energizer Bunny.
She just keeps running to stop the war machine, to stop Oil companies
that hired Obama to rape Libya & every country with sweet oil.

Cindy advocates for a solar feed in tariff payment policy ( FiT ) that requires Utilities like PG&E, to pay home owners $0.49 kwh for feeding solar onto the grid.
This is the greatest jobs producer in the world.
Cindy is far more progressive on the policy for creating jobs than is any other candidate running.

Once people get hip to how we can create millions more new solar jobs, they will vote for Cindy.

Enough solar hits California in one day to power this whole state, day & night, for one year.
Germany will achieve 50% of it total power from wind, geo, solar & hydro for one week during May.

If Germany, Japan, China & 69 other nations can go 100% solar, why can't California?
Japan has shut down all its nukes and they will never restart them again, because japan is rapidly going 100% solar by 2050.
Solar is the best way to ban fracking, by making it unnecessary.

Cindy advocates for legalized abortion, when none of the other male candidates will even mention the word.

It is better to vote for what you want, and not get it, than to vote for the best friend of the oil company, Brown, and get fracked by Brown again.

Posted by Paul Kangas on Apr. 24, 2014 @ 11:17 am

You and Cindy would probably fit neatly inside the same padded cell. She sure has gotten a lot of mileage out of her dead son.

Posted by Chromefields on Apr. 24, 2014 @ 11:28 am

Cindy has been in mourning about the loss of her lucid son for a long time. Some parents never give up crying about the loss of a child.

She is just trying to save your son, & every parents child that are victims of on going oil wars launched by a criminal who offered people home, and then murdered more people than Bush.

How sad all those parents who voted for BO must feel.

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Actually, Paul, Jerry Brown has always been strongly pro-choice and he recently signed legislation to allow nurse practitioners to perform abortions, addressing a serious need in the state: http://articles.latimes.com/2013/oct/09/local/la-me-brown-bills-abortion...

Posted by steven on Apr. 24, 2014 @ 6:15 pm

Thank you for correcting me. What I am most happy about is that most candidates now running in California do advocate for legal abortion.
I look forward when most of the candidates support a solar feed in tariff that requires PG&E to pay anyone who feeds solar onto the grid $0.49 kwh.
That will create 22 million jobs.

Posted by Paul Kangas on Apr. 30, 2014 @ 8:25 pm

Nothing is stronger than an idea whose time has come: solar.

Cindy's strong, bright advocacy for a solar policy,
that will ban fracking and create millions of new solar jobs
easily makes her the most progressive, the most green and
the one most union members will vote for.
Even if they sense she will come in #2.

Protest voting makes good sense in this race, since the winner is known.
Money usually wins.

Posted by Paul Kangas on Apr. 24, 2014 @ 12:09 pm

Her support is clearly increasing. Jerry Brown is prolly running scared!

Posted by Guest on Apr. 24, 2014 @ 12:28 pm

Cindy only has to come in 2nd to win.

History will judge Jerry Brown as the fracker friend of Shell Oil who prevented California from going 100% solar.

Posted by Paul Kangas on Apr. 24, 2014 @ 1:38 pm

Cindy Sheehan rode on a bike, to the big anti-fracking rally in Sacramento,
all the way from her home in Vallejo.

Here campaign staff rode all the way on bikes, with her.

Last year Cindy bikes clear across the US as a protest against the 100 US oil wars.

Cindy is driven by the love of her lost son Casey.

Cindy has more brains, guts and vision than most people.

Posted by Paul Kangas on Apr. 24, 2014 @ 3:16 pm

Her bike seat had to be incinerated as a bio-hazard.

Posted by Chromefields on Apr. 25, 2014 @ 6:53 am

Remember when the state recalled Gray Davis? We had a porn star Mary Cary and Gary Coleman running for governor. They probably got more votes combined than Sheehan will.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 24, 2014 @ 3:45 pm

"If I were truly in this for my 'ego' I would have quit a long time ago. You write, I campaign all over the world for the things I care about," - She gets to travel the world to go and preach her gospel. If it wasn't about just about her ego, she'd leave the limelight. But she loves the attention. So yes Cindy, it is all about your ego.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 24, 2014 @ 3:51 pm

We need more women like Cindy running for office.
Men are too dumb to find a solution to global warming.

"The people who created the problem, are not the people you want working for a solution. " --- Einstein

Men create wars & climate collapse.
Obama is worse than Bush or Hitler.

Posted by Paul Kangas on Apr. 24, 2014 @ 5:17 pm

"Obama is worse than Bush or Hitler."

Holy crap are you fucking retarded. If you're trying to rally people to Cindy's campaign you are doing a piss poor job of it. If you're trying to discredit her campaign by showing that it's made up of insane crazy losers, you are doing boffo work.

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Posted by dimagrire in fretta on Aug. 04, 2014 @ 6:06 am

It is easy for a progressive to run a statewide campaign.
You just have to have a "hot" issue, that can inspire people to see that idea
as the key way to create millions of jobs.

Jobs are the key. If you can articulate how to create millions of JOBS in 25 words or less, as you shake 99 hands each day, for 333 days, you can rally a million people to follow you to change the economy.

Here is the speech I wrote for Cindy: "Each city needs to pass a solar feed in tariff payment policy that requires the Utilities to pay home owners $0.49 kwh for all the solar they feed onto the grid.
This will create millions of new solar jobs in 3 years and stop climate collapse.
It only takes 5 activists to rally each city with a petition."

Cindy gives that speech every day, 7 times a day.

I feel it is working. Cindy is now known as the sun god.

Posted by Paul Kangas on Apr. 24, 2014 @ 5:28 pm

people who vote progressive.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 24, 2014 @ 5:45 pm

"One of our sayings is 'second place wins the race,'"

Somebody get this woman a participation award, stat!

Posted by Guest on Apr. 24, 2014 @ 6:22 pm

The Guardian routinely ignores candidates for local office who have no demonstrable public support even though their politics are more congruent with those that the Guardian claims to espouse.

How's directing your readers' attention to either your opponent, as in the Chiu photo, or to "viable" candidates working out?

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