(cross-posted on DailyKos)
There aren’t many members of Congress in the mold of Anthony Portantino, but there ought to be.
Recently, former Mayor of La Canada Flintridge and current California State Assemblyman Anthony Portantino announced his intentions to run for United States House of Representatives. The news has gathered national attention, and has potential opponents like entrenched incumbent Rep. David Dreier worried.
One of the best things about living less than 3 miles away from the California State Capitol is the ease of access to some of the state’s most influential leaders. I have been lucky enough to visit with the likes of Congress members John Garamendi & Doris Matsui, State Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, Senate President Darrell Steinberg and many other great members of our Party’s Leadership. Fantastic candidates like Dr. Ami Bera stop by frequently to give great talks to our local Democratic clubs. They all have fantastic qualities that make for great public servants. It was Anthony Portantino, however, that gave me reason to be truly excited about 2012.
Anthony is an unassuming yet slightly imposing man, a former Hollywood producer turned public servant with a heart for making a tangible difference in people’s lives. He’s been an integral force in keeping movie production companies in California through an innovative tax credit program. He’s fought for reproductive health, gained bi-partisan praise for his efforts to freeze the salaries of our state’s highest-paid workers, and is currently in a battle to help get unregistered weapons off the streets (something that has caused a bit of controversy with the NRA and a group called “South Bay Open Carry”).
I was able to sit down with the Assemblyman at a small café directly across the street from the north steps of the capitol. Having worked on political campaigns for the majority of the last decade, I had my share of questions for Anthony. He was all too glad to answer.
In getting to know Asm. Portantino, I noticed two things quickly: first, this was a man who wanted to get to work. There was no pretense about him, simply that he saw a need in Congress and is now determined to help make positive change. Second, this was a thinker who was dedicated to doing what’s best for his constituents.
I asked Anthony why he wanted to run for Congress, a legitimate question to start off with if there ever was one. “I was inspired by President Obama when he announced a push for helping community colleges. Too often politicians focus on 4-year universities, which is fine, but the President seemed to get that not everyone was Harvard-bound for a medical degree. As Chair of the Higher Education Committee, the President’s plan resonated with me and helped to get me into this race.”
Anthony’s not the kind of man to use buzzwords or poll-tested sound bytes to lure votes. Most professional politicians are spending their energies regurgitating one-liners on “job creation,” without taking into factor all of the difficulties actually producing what they promise to deliver. Anthony was clear that his priorities would be focused to change the environment around the country and be more conducive for jobs, better careers that last in the long term rather than simply for the here and now. Anthony Portantino is thinking about tomorrow by starting today. Education is his number one priority if elected to the House in 2012.
Learning has been a lifelong goal for Anthony, having been a graduate from Albright College in Pennsylvania. His father was the first in his family to graduate college thanks to the GI Bill, and Anthony’s daughter Sofia is currently a university student here in California. “We all do better with an educated population,” Portantino explained.
Medical research has also been a passion of Assemblyman Portantino’s, having been the author of numerous bills aimed at increased funding for umbilical/stem cell research. He has also been instrumental with legislation regarding breast cancer screenings, HIV funding, and is currently working on ways to improve women’s health & fertility by mandating insurers preserve embryos of cancer patients who might one day wish to have children.
Overall, Anthony Portantino has a broad and deep mind, concerned about planning for our futures. His eyes are always set two steps ahead, and in these troubling times that’s exactly the kind of candidate we need representing us in Washington.
“I’m ultimately trying to reflect my constituent’s priorities. These are some of the things people in my district care about. It’s my job to make their lives easier, and connecting with them is what this job is about.”
If you have a moment, please take the time to check out Assemblyman Anthony Portantino. His race has caught my attention, and I’m going to do what I can to help him win in 2012. He’s going to need your help to make it happen, though. Congressman Dreier has never faced someone quite like Anthony, and the GOP is going to try their hardest to keep a member of their leadership entrenched. And help you can give would be most appreciated.