June 2006 California Primary Election Guide - Drug Policy Forum of California
Drug Reform Not a Prominent Issue in Campaign for Statewide Offices.
There are few primary races in which candidates have expressed views on marijuana or drug reform issues in the upcoming June 2006 primary election. DPFCA received only a handful of responses to questionnaires that we sent to the candidates about drug reform issues such as marijuana decriminalization, medical marijuana, hemp, Three Strikes reform, and student drug testing. Following is a rundown on the major state races plus a handful of local competitive districts where candidates with significantly contrasting views are competing for their party's nomination to appear on the November ballot. Comments, corrections, and updates to this guide may be addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org .
Governor: Neither of the leading Democratic candidates, Phil Angelides or Steve Westly, has publicly stated views on drug issues, though both are social liberals. Westly has endorsed Three Strikes reform and privately spoken favorably of medical marijuana. Angelides says he supports the current Three Strikes law, but is open to "sensible adjustments."
Attorney General: The favorite candidate, Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown boasts that he would be a strong advocate for medical marijuana. Oakland residents have a different view, having witnessed the dismantling of Oaksterdam under Brown's regime, as well as his opposition to Oakland's Measure Z "Tax and Regulate" initiative and the 2004 Three Strikes reform initiative. However, Brown's circle of advisers are liberal and sympathetic to medical marijuana.
Brown's opponent, L.A. City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, is running to the right of Brown, boasting of his crime-busting activities against gangs under Mayor Riordan. He has indicated he would follow the pro-215 line of retiring A.G. Bill Lockyer; however, L.A. activists are skeptical of his commitment.
Lieutenant Governor: Sen. Jackie Speier (D-San Mateo) had a strong, vocal pro-reform record in the State Senate on medical marijuana, harm reduction, and sentencing issues. She deserves special credit for having fearlessly taken on the powerful prison guards' union. Her one downside is her sponsorship of meddlesome bills to ban ephedra and require high school athletes to be drug tested for steroids. Sen. Liz Figueroa also had a good pro-reform voting record, but has little chance in the race. The leading Democratic candidate, Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi, has no discernible record on the issues.
On the Republican side, State Sen. Tom McClintock, a staunch small government conservative, deserves credit for being one of the few in his party to hold libertarian views on medical marijuana.
U.S. Senate: U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein has been a hopeless cause, as has been the Republican who will face her in November, Richard Mountjoy. However, three candidates are running for the Green Party nomination, two of whom responded to our questionnaire. Michael Mesplay described himself as a "libertarian Green" and said he supports full medical and recreational rights. Community volunteer Tian Harter replied that he supports medical marijuana and hemp but is "conflicted" on full legalization.
Humboldt Co. District Attorney. Medical marijuana advocates strongly support incumbent D.A. Paul Gallegos, who approved the county's liberal Prop. 215 guidelines, against conservative challenger Worth Dikeman.
Sonoma Co. Supervisors - District 2. Challenger Mervis Reissig has promised to be an "advocate" for medical marijuana, earning support of local activists over incumbent Mike Kerns. District 4. Local activists also lean to Debora Fudge over incumbent Paul Kelley.
In the DA's race, advocates are split between incumbent Steve Passalacqua and challenger Jill Ravitch; both profess to support medical marijuana while opposing abuse of the law.
North Bay Area
Marin - S.F. 6th Congressional District: Incumbent Democrat Lynn Woolsey is facing a challenge from Assemblyman Joe Nation. While Nation compiled a decent voting record in the Assembly, Woolsey stands out for having actively co-sponsored every major marijuana reform bill in the House.
Marin - 6th Assembly District. Six Democrats are vying for this seat. Three responded to our queries. Sociologist Alexander Easton-Brown offered us a full-scale plan for marijuana legalization; Deputy Attorney General Damon Connolly told us he supported medical marijuana and favored a more consistent state law; Environmental attorney Jared Huffman said that he supports a "safe and affordable" MMJ distribution system and supports prison reform, though he is undecided on legalization.
Oakland - Assembly District 16: Democrat John Russo was a solid vote for medical marijuana when he was on the Council, and has courted support from drug reformers. His opponent, Sandré Swanson, a long-time Dellums aide, gave favorable answers on our questionnaire on drug reform issues.
Oakland Mayor and City Council: The outcome of these races will be critical to the future of medical marijuana and Oakland's Measure Z "tax and regulate" initiative. Supporters are seeking to block the mayoral bid of City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente, who used his political strong arm to close down the city's medical cannabis clubs. Former Congressman Ron Dellums, a former NORML advisory board member, is considered the best bet to beat De La Fuente; he is endorsed by the Oakland Civil Liberties Alliance, sponsors of Measure Z. OCLA has co-endorsed Councilwoman Nancy Nadel, an underdog candidate with a long, strong record of support for medical marijuana and Measure Z.
In ciiy council races, OCLA has endorsed District 6 incumbent Desley Brooks, a strong supporter of Measure Z, and District 2 challenger Aimee Allison, who is opposing De La Fuente ally Pat Kernihan.
The Hayward mayoral and city council races will be crucial to settling the fate of the city's medical marijuana clubs. Mayoral candidate Michael Sweeney favors continued oversight and review of dispensaries; his opponent, Brian Schott, has vowed to shut them down. In the City Council race, Kevin Dowling and Gary Steinberger are most strongly supportive of medical marijuana; Matt Jimenez has expressed qualified support; Robert Lopez is dubious; and Hank Quintel is flatly opposed.
Hayward - 18th Assembly District. Democrat Mary Hayashi a member of the State Board of Registered Nursing, is strongly supportive of medical marijuana. Bill McCammon, who is supported by the police, is opposed.
Alameda County Supervisor District (Hayward - Union City). Medical marijuana advocates have lacked a working majority on the Board of Supervisors due to lack of support from incumbent Sup. Gayle Steele. Her opponent, Union City councilman Richard Valle, has been a consistent supporter of medical cannabis dispensaries in Union City.
San Leandro - Fremont 10th Senate District. Three former assembly members are running for the Democrat nomination. Two of them, John Dutra and Ellen Corbett, have good voting records. The third, Johan Klehs, has been a waffler.
San Mateo / San Jose
San Mateo / Peninsula Senate District 8: In the Democratic race, Sup. Mike Nevin has done more than any public official to advance needle exchange and medical marijuana in San Mateo County. He is opposed by Assemblyman Leland Yee, who has voted well but hardly distinguished himself by leadership in the legislature.
San Jose - City Council District 3. Prop 215 patient Dennis Kyne is running as a cannabis-friendly candidate.
Antioch - Pittsburg -Martinez 11th Assembly District:Physical process engineer Gerold Gorman, one of rour Democrats running in this race, says he is "absolutely" supportive of medical marijuana & Prop. 215.
Tracy - Stockton 11th Congressional District. Three Democrats are vying for the right to oppose pothibitionist Rep. Richard Pombo, a DeLay crony who has consistently voted against medical marijuana. The only Democrat to share his views with us was union electrician Steve Thomas, who supports medical marijuana and hemp, and agrees that too many non-violent drug offenders are locked up. Pombo's Republican opponent, maverick ex-Rep. Pete McCloskey, is renowned for his pro-choice views, but declines to take a position on Prop. 215 and medical marijuana.
Northridge - 20th Senate District. Democrat Cindy Montanez had a good record in the Assembly, especially on HIV and harm reduction issues. City Councilman Alex Padilla is regarded as more conservative.
LA/Culver City - 26th Senate District. Assemblyman Mark Ridley-Thomas, the Democratic favorite, boasts a solid voting record and spoke at the Drug Policy Alliance conference in Long Beach. His opponent, Marvin McCoy, offered us favorable responses on all drug reform issues, including decriminalization.
Marina Del Rey/Torrance - 28th Senate District. Two Assembly members are competing for the Democratic nomination. One, Jenny Oropeza, has a commendable voting record. The other, George Nakano, has distinguished himself for cowardice by abstaining on every major drug-reform vote.
Santa Monica - 41st Assembly District. Two of five Democratic candidates told us they support "full decriminalization": women's commissioner Kelly Hayes-Raitt, and disability activist Shawn Casey O'Brien, who is a card-carrying Prop. 215 patient.
West Hollywood - 42nd Assembly District. Among five Democratic candidates, one of the frontrunners is West Hollywood councilwoman Abbe Land, who has won support from medical marijuana activists for standing up for dispensaries in the city. NORML member and former Libertarian Eric Fine is running on a platform of marijuana legalization. Cynthia Toussaint is strongly supportive of medical marijuana and disability rights, but "torn" on the issue of decriminalization. Author Mark Gonzaga supports Three Strikes reform, hemp, and recreational marijuana at home, though not while driving.
Pasadena - 44th Assembly District. On the Green side, Ricardo Costa is "absolutely" in favor of improved medical marijuana access, decriminalization and other drug reform measures. Among Democrats, local activists speak favorably of Diana Peterson-Moore.
Los Angeles - 45th Assembly District. Democrat Elena Popp strongly supports pro-reform positions and has the endorsement of local MMJ activists.
Orange County Board of Supervisors. 4th District. Libertarian Sup. Chris Norby is a welcome supporter of medical marijuana in this conservative county.
Santa Ana - 34th Senate District. Democratic Supervisor Lou Correa posted one of the worst records of any legislator when in the Assembly. His opponent, former Assemblyman Tom Umberg, is a cautious moderate.
San Bernardino County
Board of Supervisors, 4th District. Attorney Kenneth White, a Prop. 215 patient activist and NORML member, is running for the Board of Supervisors on a cannabis-friendly platform.
San Diego: 50th Congressional District. In this race, the primary is already over. The two candidates, former Republican Rep. Brian Bilbray and Democrat Francine Busby, are fighting for the right to fill out the remainder of the disgraced Rep. Randy Cunningham's term. Bilbray was one of the first Republicans to support medical marijuana legislation back in 1996, but later switched sides under pressure from the party leadership. Given the dismal performance of the latter, there are good reasons to prefer that the Democrats win a majority in the House this year.
San Diego 51st Congressional District: Veteran Democratic incumbent Rep. Bob Filner, who boasts a perfect record on drug reform votes in Congress, is opposed by Assemblyman Juan Vargas, who has only a so-so record,
San Diego County Board of Supervisors: District 5. Reactionary incumbent Bill Horn, who led the county's lawsuit against Prop. 215, is faced by former Assemlyman Bruce Thompson, who has said he would support state law.
San Diego Suprvisors District 1. Democratic challenger Richard Barrera has criticized the county's opposition to medical marijuana and needle exchange. His opponent, Republican Ron Roberts, does deserve credit for being the only supervisor not to support the county's lawsuit against Prop. 215.