California, an enormously populous and wealthy state with an outsized impact on the culture, economy and politics of the United States, has a gubernatorial election this year. Jerry Brown, who has served a total of four terms and is the son of a former two-term California governor, isn’t running for reelection due to term limits.
Michael Shellenberger has decided that he is the right person to serve as Governor of the great state of California. At this point in the campaign, even some of his biggest fans don’t give him much of a chance. He has never run for elective office and does not have a conventional political machine.
He does, however, have a substantial amount of name recognition, ever-improving oratorical skills, and a powerful message that is embodied in his campaign’s slogan “Give Change a Chance.”
His initial platform is one of opposition to corruption, support for housing crisis solutions, improvements to the educational system and – the reason his campaign rates coverage here – support for abundant clean energy that includes keeping Diablo Canyon operating, taking action to repair and restore San Onofre, and enabling the construction of new, advanced nuclear power plants.
Abundant, affordable and clean energy can provide the resources and jobs required to revive California’s Dream. A Shellenberger victory in California would have a positive impact on the future prospects of U.S. atomic energy development that would be difficult to overstate.
Shellenberger sees California as an incredible state blessed with many natural gifts, including a dynamic, diverse, progressive population. As he told Dave Rubin during a recent interview on the Rubin Report, he also believes that the political system is broken and terribly skewed in favor of the tiny slice of people at the top, some marginally effective programs for people at the bottom, and not much benefit at all for the majority of the people in the middle.
He calls the establishment Democrats “country club” liberals. He believes it is insane to have a system where just 17% of the teachers in the state can afford to buy a house near their schools. He worries about the state’s ability to continue to function at all when other public servants cannot afford to live and where even a six figure tech job enables someone to buy or rent a few hundred square feet with little left over for other expenses.
He has courageously touched the third rail of California politics by suggesting that Proposition 13 needs to be revised so that neighbors in virtually identical homes do not receive property tax bills that can differ by factors of 10 or 20 based on the time they purchased their homes.
He’s a lifelong Democrat who grew up in a religious, pacifist family that emphasized the importance of education and service. He has a lifelong love of the natural world, and was once a firmly committed Environmentalist. In recent years, he has reemphasized his humanist leanings and helped to develop a new school of thought known as Ecomodernism. Though he initially considered running for office as an independent, he has determined that he will run as a Democrat.
For those with a reasonable understanding of current California politics, it is a big stretch to imagine success for an outsider who is not already well entrenched in the Democratic machine. However, California voters enacted a law in 2010 that provides a large enough opening to enable someone like Mike to surprise everyone with an upset victory.
That law created a unique system for choosing the candidates that will appear on the November ballot. In June, there will be a primary that is open to all registered voters without respect to any declared party affiliation. All of the people who have properly registered to run by the filing deadline of March 9 and have paid all of the required fees will be listed on the ballot. Their party affiliation, if any, will be listed next to their name on the ballot.
The top two candidates, regardless of party affiliation, will advance to the general election.
In such a contest, name recognition will be important, but so will the candidate’s ability to reach the voters and explain why they are the correct choice. The system offers some intriguing possibilities for people skilled in the art of attracting attention on social media platforms. Michael is a recognized star on the Internet.
EMC Research conducted a pool of likely voters at the end of February. Michael Shellenberger was number 5 on the list in terms of name recognition, which isn’t a bad start considering the large size of the field (somewhere greater than a dozen candidates) and the early stage of the formal campaign season. Of course, some of the front runners have been campaigning or positioning themselves for the office for careers lasting decades.