California Election ’22: Black candidates run for statewide office

According to Solomon O. Smith | California Black Media

Four black candidates are running for statewide office in California. Three are contenders for victory as they battle their opponents in the final days of the election.

Dr. Shirley Nash Weber (D), incumbent Secretary of State (SOS), is leading her race against Robert Bernosky (R). Weber was appointed by Governor Gavin Newsom in December 2020. She is California’s first black secretary of state and only the fifth African-American woman to serve as a state constitutional officer in California’s 170-year history.

Photo: California black Media

Since her appointment, Weber has led successful public information campaigns that have resulted in more Californians going to the polls. She toured public schools and local communities as part of her office’s ongoing initiative. The SOS is the third highest office in California and is responsible for setting and implementing voting rules, as well as the logistics of getting votes to 20 million voters.

In Weber’s race, he has a long list of supporters and endorsements including: Gov. Gavin Newsom, Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis, State Treasurer Fiona Ma, Comptroller Betty Yee, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, Attorney General Rob Bonta and California State Board of Equalization Chair Malia Cohen. In addition, several papers such as the Los Angeles Sentinel, the Los Angeles Times, and the San Diego Union Tribune also endorsed her candidacy.

Her opponent has a slightly different take on the vote, according to his platform, which lists “cleaning up” California’s voter rolls as number three on his to-do list. Many claimed that illegal immigrants were scattered all over the electoral rolls of Western states, all of which were revealed by fact-checkers like PolitiFact.

Tony Thurmond, a student of the public education system and graduate of the foster youth system, is running for a second term as Superintendent of Public Instruction (SPI). Thurmond attributes the lag in achievement for California students to insufficient funding, a view supported by teachers unions.

“I am honored that the teachers support me. I’m in a race where I’m backed by teachers and my opponent is backed by billionaires,” Thurmond said.

Although popular for keeping office, Thurmond has received some criticism for his handling of public schools during the pandemic. Those upset about the school closings blame Thurmond, and some studies show that children may have been held back academically, especially children of color.

Photo: California black Media

Thurmond’s opponent, Lance Christensen, works for the California Policy Center, a right-leaning think tank.
Christensen’s push for more control for parents and local communities is consistent with Republican policy. SPI is a non-party optional feature.

Christensen called on teachers to “indoctrinate” children and supported many right-wing views. “I’m a religious person, I’m conservative, I make no bones about it,” he said. “I’m not trying to excuse it. I’m not hiding it.”

Thurmond says he wants to invest more in education, at least an amount that matches California’s status as the fifth richest economy in the world. His opponent focuses on removing bad teachers and giving parents more control.

Although Thurmond is the favorite and won a larger share of the vote during the June primary, Christensen appeals to some parents, and his straight-laced language on school choice could make Thurmond’s race difficult in some conservative
areas.

The race for state comptroller is a bit trickier. The previous occupant of the position, Betty Yee, a Democrat, was dismissed from her position. Malia Cohen is the Democratic choice to replace Yee. Cohen has dedicated her career in public service to making public dollars work for all Californians, her campaign says.

Her opponent, Lanhee Chen (R), is a “conservative in the spirit of Mitt Romney.”

In the primary, Cohen finished second to Republican Yee, 36.9% to 26.8%. However, voters favor Cohen in November. 46.8% of voters are registered Democrats, while only 23.9% of voters are registered Republicans. The LA Times calls it the only open race of the year.

Chen was an aggressive underdog in the race attacking Cohen on several issues. To date, Cohen has yet to directly debate Chen, who mocked her Twitter with images of myself, alone, on the debate stage.

Angela Underwood Jacobs is running to be the first black woman to serve as governor of California. She is a Republican.

Underwood’s experience includes serving as deputy mayor of Lancaster, where she was the first black woman on the city council. Jacobs received 19.9% ​​of the vote in the primary, far behind incumbent Eleni Kounalakis’ 52.7%. Her platform includes many conventional Republican issues, such as smaller government and less regulation, but there are also some differences.

Her brother, Dave Patrick Underwood, a federal security officer in Oakland, was shot and killed by a member of the far-right extremist group Bugaloo Bois – some members of the organization allegedly participated in the January 6 riots at the US Capitol. Jacobs sued Facebook for promoting and facilitating the activities of these types of groups.

Jacobs’ motto, “Make California Gold Again,” is emblematic of her slightly Trumpian platform.

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