Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Blue America Endorsement: Jonathan Abboud For California Assembly


Jonathan Abboud is running for an open blue seat in the California state Assembly-- the 37th district which runs along the coast from Point Conception through Goleta, Santa Barbara, Carpinteria and Ventura into Oxnard. It includes just over half of Santa Barbara County and almost 30% of Ventura County. Democrats usually win there with over 60%. Hillary beat Trump in the district 64.3% to 29.2%. The current member, Monique Limón (D), was re-elected in 2018 with over 80% of the vote in a Democrat v Democrat's runoff. Republicans have pretty much given up trying in the 37th. These are exactly the kinds of districts where it is so crucial to elect forceful progressives and not more of the corporate shills Sacramento is so full of.

Goal ThermometerJonathan is contending with 5 other Democrats, conservatives and moderates. He's the progressive the race. Born and raised in Los Angeles, in a rent controlled apartment, near an oil field, with underfunded schools, his parents were immigrants. He graduated from UC Santa Barbara, in 2014 after serving as student body president during a tragic year in Isla Vista, the UCSB college town. He decided to stay there to work on forming a own local government and is now employed as General Manger of the Isla Vista Community Services District. In 2014 he was elected to the Santa Barbara Community College District Board of Trustees representing Isla Vista. One more thing I know will be important for many DWT readers to know: Jonathan was one of the few elected officials in California to endorse Bernie in 2015 at the start of campaign. If that's all you need to know, that thermometer on the right will lead to the Blue America state legislatures Act Blue page, to which Jonathan was just added.

Article: What Does It Mean To Be A "Progressive" Candidate In 2020?

-by Jonathan Abboud
Candidate for the California 37th State Assembly District

The 37th State Assembly District is one of the safest blue districts in the state, our current representative wins with over 80% of the vote.

An article published in December by the Santa Maria Times mentions as much and goes on to ask each candidate if they’re a progressive Democrat. All six answered yes, because this brand of politics has strengthened since Bernie Sanders ran for president in 2016. So it has become popular to call yourself a progressive, and overall that’s a good thing.

However, it can lead to some confusion. What does it mean to be a "progressive" candidate or elected official in 2020?

Among my initial reasons for supporting Bernie Sanders for President in 2015, is because of his specificity and direct support for ideas like tuition-free college, Medicare for All, publicly financed elections, public affordable housing, and banning fracking and new oil/gas production immediately. To me, this demonstrates a clear commitment to these issues. Of course there might need to be a compromise made along the way, but that’s acceptable when our starting position is the progressive position, not the compromise itself. Starting from the compromise position, for example, has led to the privatization of the UC system over the past few decades, a system that at one point was tuition-free for all California residents.

On the other hand, Bernie's opponents and most Democratic candidates spoke in general terms and platitudes anyone can agree with like "improve education" or "access to healthcare" or "protect the environment." Obviously most people support these things, but when someone runs for office on these ideas only, it's very hard to hold them accountable when elected. These phrases can mean almost anything. They don’t demonstrate a direct commitment to rejecting large corporate interests and a firm unshakable solidarity with the working poor, the middle class, people of color, immigrants, and the LGBTQ community.

The same is true in my race. I am the only candidate actually running on specific progressive ideas, not being shy to talk about them, and also the only candidate who’s endorsed Bernie Sanders for President.

My platform includes:
Tuition-free public colleges & trade schools
Minimum teacher salaries raised to $60k
Universal pre-K
Green New Deal, transition to carbon neutral by 2030
Ending all new oil and gas production
Publicly financed campaigns
Medicare for All
Publicly built affordable housing, housing as a right
I’m also the candidate who’s been powered by a large volume of small donations, swearing off fossil fuel money, corporate PACs, and big developers. We are the only campaign running a field program of any scale (it's where most of our budget goes to of the $105,000 we’ve raised), working to register thousands of new voters, and I personally canvass 3-4 hours per day.

No other candidate is running on all of these issues, apart from one other who supports M4A. Yet, this is a 100% safe blue district. Districts like these are where we can make solid gains in electing progressive legislators.

In the last week of the campaign, we are picking up a lot of momentum. I talk to voters every day relieved to have a candidate actually supporting these ideas and even if they don’t agree with all or most of them, they’re happy to have someone being specific that they can hold accountable.

I need all the help I can get from the progressive community to cross the finish line. The California legislature is a super majority of Democrats. We just need a few more voices in there pushing for progress to start making a big change here.

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