I’m voting for Michael Shellenberger in the June 7th California gubernatorial primary, and if you live in California and want to see a serious discussion of our biggest issues occur that otherwise will not happen, you should consider voting for him too.
Most people I know seem to have never heard of Shellenberger, but next to Gavin Newsom, he is actually the most well known candidate in the race. He is a political author and a registered Independent ('No Party Preference' on the ballot). Using Twitter as a rough benchmark, he has close to 250,000 followers compared to Governor Newsom's 1.9 million. He seems to have a lot of momentum – in the last 8 weeks he has gained 50,000 followers, and almost every day his tweets seem to receive between 400-1200 retweets.
His closest Republican opponent is State Senator Brian Dahle who has fewer than 12,000 followers, and gets 5-10 retweets a day.
A lot of people don't seem to be aware that California has a unique general election system called a 'jungle primary,' where the top two vote getters in the primary go on to have a head to head match, regardless of party affiliation. This makes California uniquely well suited for an Independent to be viable rather than a throwaway vote if they can make it to the general election.
I by no means agree with everything Shellenberger believes – some of how he thinks I even disagree with strongly -- but I do think he is quite thoughtful and has nuanced takes that are worthy of discussion on how to handle some of California's biggest issues.
He has two big focal point issues he cares about most -- the homelessness, drug, and mental health epidemic that is ravaging California's cities, and securing California's future of abundant renewable energy.
On homelessness, Shellenberger deeply believes that we are not taking the drug crisis seriously enough. Fentanyl is an even greater beast than the horrific drugs that have been on the streets in the past, and he believes open air drug dealing needs to be much more heavily cracked down on, a lot more focus needs to go to building sufficient shelter beds so people don’t sleep on the streets, and mental health and drug addiction services should be more directly implemented on the state level rather than having cities and counties be responsible for care when they are under-resourced.
On energy, Shellenberger believes most strongly that we need to be preserving our existing nuclear power plants rather than shutting them down, and that we must do everything we can to build new safe ones to combat climate change and have much greater energy abundance. He also believes we should be doing a lot more to have strong water desalination infrastructure in the state as well to make sure we always have enough water. These are points I strongly agree with.
He's written two books on these two topics, and many blog posts. His takes have definitely generated some controversy. But whether these are the right ideas or not to be implemented to handle some of our most important issues, they are thoroughly thought out, and definitely feel worthy of further discussion.
If Shellenberger does not make it past the primary, it seems the most likely scenario is Newsom won't even have to campaign or participate in debates -- his landslide win will be all but guaranteed. Despite his small following, the Republican could easily still make it through this primary simply for having the Republican label next to his name, so voting here is quite important.
If he does make it through, the general election will be far closer and more competitive. Iit will be an election of real debate between Newsom's ideas and Shellenberger's.
Who would emerge as the right leader for California? I have no idea -- but I do believe the discussion will be useful. I personally don't believe Republican ideas are the right thing for California, but having no competition of ideas at all is unhealthy for us too.That, I think, is the biggest reason to vote for him in the primary.
The primary vote in California ends next Tuesday June 7th -- mail-in voting is already occurring now if you're registered - and if you're not, you can still conditionally register until election day.
Despite his small following, the Republican could easily still make it through this primary simply for having the Republican label next to his name, so voting here is quite important.