All posts by John Laird

On to August 17

Thanks to the help and support of activists across the state, we forced a runoff election for the 15th State Senate district open seat. Every vote that was cast, every voter that was contacted, and every dollar that was donated to my campaign made the difference between an outright victory for my opponent and our chance to win this race on August 17.

Over the past few weeks they threw the kitchen sink at us. With nearly all the ballots counted, we know their plan didn’t work and we have secured a runoff election. They called an election that voters didn’t see coming.  They drenched us with $1.3 million in attack TV, radio and mailings. They cynically took advantage of disproportionately high Republican turnout in the June 8 primary election in order to drive up absentee votes for our opponent. It was a perfect storm of factors arrayed against us.

Because of my supporters and activists, we prevailed and denied my opponent of his planned outright victory. But I’m going need the support of Calitics readers to continue the fight and win this election on August 17.

For the run-off election we’ll finally have a level playing field. Without an election date devised by the Governor to confuse voters — and supported by Assemblyman Blakeslee — our opponent’s element of surprise with voters is gone. And, with a battle-tested field operation in place, we now have time to take our message to voters and engage in a serious debate about the issues facing California and the 15th Senate District.

In the coming weeks we will talk directly with voters about education, job creation, environmental protection, the state budget and breaking the gridlock in Sacramento. For example, California’s state budget is already 10 days late.  Every day that goes by without a budget is a day deeper into the gridlock. Assemblyman Blakeslee presided over the gridlock last year and again this year is central to the problem. We will engage with him on the details of the state budget and the vision for California’s future. Education, parks, local public safety and jobs hang in the balance. Each day of this campaign, I will stand for an end to gridlock as California’s budget process continues to be held hostage by my opponent and his party.

Much was accomplished is the first round. First, California’s coast is the clear victor in this election. We called out my opponent on his support for offshore oil drilling over the past year and he eventually came to our position on offshore drilling.

Second, we built a strong field campaign in all five counties within two weeks, and reached more than 110,000 houses through phone banking and walking. Our grassroots approach also extended to our fundraising effort. With over 1,300 individual contributors in just seven weeks, we outnumbered my opponent’s by a factor of 4-to-1.  

Third, I was recognized throughout the district as the candidate who would best represent the area’s interests in Sacramento. I received eight out of nine newspaper endorsements in the district. And we have an overwhelming majority of local endorsements made by organizations and elected officials.

I have a vision for a better California. In the run-off campaign and with a level playing field, we are going to work even harder to deliver a message that focuses on support for education, job creation, environmental protection and breaking the gridlock in Sacramento.

We are going to work harder. We’re going to reach more voters. We’re going to win this race. But we cannot do it without your support. I appreciate all that the Calitics community has done for me – but I’m going to need you to continue to work on my behalf. Show my opponent that you’re in this fight with me by making a contribution to my campaign today. I’ll soon let you know what else you can do to help the campaign prepare for the August 17 election.

Thank you for your votes, your donations, and your support.

Why Tuesday’s Special Election Matters

California is in crisis. It’s time for change. The problems are obvious. The political gridlock in Sacramento the last year has made our state government a national embarrassment. We need reform.

On Tuesday, June 22, we have the change to bring change home to California in the special election in the 15th State Senate District.

That’s why I’m running for the seat formerly held by Republican Abel Maldonado in the California State Senate. The 15th District is a deeply gerrymandered district that runs from Santa Maria in Santa Barbara County through San Luis Obispo, Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties to the City of Saratoga on the western outskirts of San Jose in Santa Clara County.

I’m a Democrat who represented a large portion of the 15th District in the State Assembly from 2002 to 2008, and I have a record of standing up for my principles. During my time there, I led our fight for fair budgets, protection for our environment, investment in education and equality for all Californians.

My opponent, Sam Blakeslee, is the Assemblymember who led the Republican caucus during the gridlock of the past year. He voted for offshore oil drilling and for massive cuts to public school funding. Last year, when bills were signed to promote equity for women in health insurance and Harvey Milk Day, he called those bills “noxious.” That’s not the kind of leadership California needs in this time of crisis.

Blakeslee, who used to be an executive at Exxon, has been the beneficiary of over $1 million in corporate-funded attack ads targeting me. These misleading ads are funded by some of California’s biggest corporations, who are trying to buy this election on behalf of my opponent, Sam Blakeslee.

One of those donors is BP – yes, that BP. BP and ExxonMobile have given directly to Mr. Blakeslee’s legislative campaigns for years and they, along with Shell Oil, also are funders of the so-called “Civil Justice Association of California,” which has spent more than $100,000 in attack ads against John Laird laundered through it’s newly formed PAC, the “Senior Advocates League PAC.” Other major donors include big tobacco company Phillip Morris, big insurance company Anthem Blue Cross, and big oil company Chevron.

If these big corporations are spending this much money against me, it means I’m doing something right.

If I’m elected, and if we elect Anna Caballero to the State Senate in the 12th District this fall, there will be a 2/3rds majority in the Senate. That means a minority will no longer be able to rigidly block the majority’s efforts to solve the state’s budget crisis, and we’ll finally be able to create jobs, protect our environment and invest in public education.

My candidacy has generated widespread public support. I’ve been endorsed by a wide range of organizations, including the California Teachers Association, the California League of Conservation Voters, the California Nurses Association, CDF Firefighters, San Jose Police Officers’ Association, and many others. Most newspapers in the district have endorsed me as well. Here’s what the San Jose Mercury News had to say in their endorsement:

John Laird is not just the best candidate, he is also a truly excellent candidate. Voters in District 15, which runs from Santa Barbara County up the coast to Santa Cruz and into Santa Clara County, will do the whole state a huge favor by returning Laird to Sacramento.

Laird is a rare politician. In two terms in the Assembly, he stood out for his intelligence, creativity and ability to work across the aisle – which may be why he was scored as the most effective legislator from this region in a 2007 Mercury News analysis. That, and his reputation as an incredibly hard worker. He earned top ratings from youth advocates, senior advocates, conservationists – an amazing range of public interests.

I can’t win this without you. The other side will try to outspend us to block reform. Because of the governor’s backroom decision to hold the special election on June 22, many voters will be left out of the process unless we can mobilize them to participate in this important vote. That’s why I need your help.

If you can make it to the 15th District this weekend, we’d love to have you help us get out the vote. Click here to find a campaign office nearest you.

If you can’t get to the district, you can sign up to virtual phonebank by clicking here.

And if you’re unable to do either of those things, you can donate to the campaign.

Thank you for your support. With your help I can bring change to California.