For most of 2009 the two Democratic candidates for the Lieutenant Governor’s race in 2010 were State Senators Dean Florez (Fresno) and Alan Lowenthal (Long Beach). With anemic fundraising numbers, Lowenthal is likely expected to drop out.
However, a new candidate has tossed her hat in the ring – Janice Hahn, who represents San Pedro, Wilmington, and parts of South LA on the LA City Council. Already she seems well-positioned in the race – a poll by Fairbank, Maslin showed her leading the field with 24% of the vote, whereas Florez and Lowenthal had 8 and 7 respectively.
Over the weekend at the CDP E-Board meeting in San Diego, Brian Leubitz and I had a chance to sit down with Janice Hahn and talk about the race and some of the major issues facing the state, from water to economy to structural reform. I confess that, before last week, I knew very little about her at all. I know a lot about her now, and I was very impressed by what I saw in this conversation.
• She believes CA wants an outsider and not a legislator for the LtG spot, which she intends to use as a bully pulpit for economic recovery and protecting education. Previous LtGs “haven’t used the office well.”
• On education, she said “we cannot balance the budget on the backs of students.” She would vote against the proposed 30% UC fee increase at this week’s UC Regents meeting were she Lt. Gov. (one of the commissions the LtG sits on).
• She wants to promote economic recovery through job growth that includes new, sustainable, environmentally friendly work. She goes beyond the usual mantra of “green jobs” to explain that California needs to support apprenticeship programs that can offer employment options in a sustainable industrial economy to a broader range of people.
• Understands the needs of fishermen in water dispute, seeks a balanced solution to that issue. (Note: I didn’t get a chance to ask her about the proposed water bond, and would be curious to hear her answer.)
• Believes state government needs reform, but is nervous (rightly, in my view) about a Con-Con. Supports majority vote on budget and majority vote on local tax increases, as well as protecting local government from raids.
• Strongly supports high speed rail and is willing to be a strong statewide advocate for the project, something we currently lack.
Ultimately I think she is a very compelling candidate – not just for this office, but for California Democrats as a whole. Whereas Jerry Brown isn’t willing to offer a clear progressive path forward for the state, it seems Janice Hahn is very much interested in doing that. She is smart, personable, and seems to understand what California needs at this time. The Lt. Gov. office may have limited power, but Janice Hahn seems interested in using that power to its fullest, and using it as an opportunity to make a case for a better California.
She deserve a close, hard look by California Democrats and progressives. I think they will find much to like about Janice Hahn.