Thursday, June 7, 2012
Where I've Been (Not Dead)
As some of you may know, my first job working in professional politics was on Hannah Beth Jackson's 2008 California State Senate race. A proud progressive, Hannah Beth faced off against Tony Strickland the former President of the California Club for Growth, an organization whose sole purpose was to fund primary challenges against Republicans that were deemed not conservative enough (these guys were the Tea Party before the Tea Party). After a brutal campaign and a month of State mandated recounts, we lost by 856 votes out of more than 400,000 cast (less than 0.0002%).
During that campaign, I helped lead and organize the most successful college voter registration drive in the country. While not quite enough to put Hannah Beth over the top, it was enough to elect environmentalist Doreen Farr to the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors, tipping the balance of power in the county back to Democrats. Her opponent was Steve Pappas, I may have mentioned Steve Pappas before. To summarize, he sued claiming that rather than a voter registration and GOTV effort, it was actually a massive voter fraud scheme and that every students vote at UC Santa Barbara should be thrown out and subpoenaed me and everyone else he could think of. The first trial Judge said there was absolutely no evidence to support any of his claims and said that Pappas "should be ashamed of himself" for bringing the lawsuit. The next 8 judges to hear Pappas' appeals agreed, and he currently owes Doreen Farr more than half a million dollars in legal fees.
Which brings us to this past week. Redistricting after the census meant that rather than a grueling slugfest in the General Election against a Republican, Hannah Beth Jackson would face a grueling slugfest in the Primary against self described "Democrat who doesn't want to raise your taxes" Jason Hodge, who received his funding from oil and tobacco companies. And the lack of other challengers meant that the rematch between Doreen Farr and Steve Pappas would also be decided in the Primary this past Tuesday. Additionally, my friend and mentor Daraka Larimore-Hall faced a challenge to his reelection as Chair of the Santa Barbara County Democratic Party from more conservative forces within the Party. And so I knew where I had to be. I drove back to Santa Barbara on Friday after work and crashed on a friends couch through election day. From sun up till sundown I was doing lit drops, canvassing, and talking to voter:
And it was worth it. Hannah Beth won her primary getting 3x the number of votes as her challenger. Doreen Farr was reelected, this time increasing her lead over Pappas from 2% in 2008 to 9.5%. And Daraka was reelected. I cannot begin to describe how immensely personally satisfying all of those things are to me or how important they are to the progressive movement in the Central Coast of California.
It also left every muscle in my body aching, much of my skin sunburned, and little time for blogging. While the election was two days ago, it's only just now starting to not hurt when I walk. I imagine I'll probably post more later today, and probably resume my more normal schedule tomorrow. Thank you all for your patience.
And remember, there is no one you cannot beat if you can out organize them.