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I voted today at the North Oakland Fire Station. I didn't vote for myself (although it was hard not to, especially because I think I'd make a good governor.) I voted NO on the recall and YES on Bustamante, just as I hope you have, or will.

The North Oakland Fire Station is located in the area destroyed by the 1991 Oakland Hills fire. Right after the fire I helped organize the North Hills Phoenix Association to help people recover from the disaster, deal with insurance companies, get utilities undergrounded, and build a fire station. The insurance companies were dealt with, the utilities were undergrounded and the North Oakland Fire Station was built. It was a bit odd, but rewarding, to vote in a fire station built, in some small part, as a result of my efforts. I take it as a sign that sometimes efforts lead to good things that you can't predict.

Posted by Garrett Gruener on October 7, 2003 at 05:59 PM | Permalink | Comments (21)

The Pipefitters' Union

I accompanied Cruz Bustamante today when he attended a rally at Local 250 of the Pipefitters' Union in Gardena. It was a classic labor rally, complete with hundreds of signs, lots of energy, and a barbeque. On the walls I noticed placards reading, "It's the 21st Century - are you keeping up your skills?"

Cruz did very well. His message -- that people deserve a fair deal and must fight against Republican efforts to undermine the social safety net -- resonated with this group. He proudly told the audience that Grey Davis had just signed SB2, guaranteeing that an additional 1 million working people in California will have access to health insurance. All in all a classic Democratic electoral effort.

The problem is that this classic Democratic constitutency is failing in the face of globalism and the leaders of the Democratic party have no idea how to remake it into a winning coalition. After 10 years of massive and expensive efforts to enroll new voters the two major parties have added about 130,000 voters a piece, while more than 1.3 million people have registered as "decline to state" voters.

We need to fashion a new social compact, one that allows businesses the resources and infrastructure they need to compete at a world class level, while improving the lives of average working people. I'm a Democrat because I believe that we need to make sure that we all succeed, but I'm also a businessman and I realize that there is no more productive force than entrepreneurs in a relatively free market.

California must compete for the top, there is no other way to finance our dreams. I believe President Clinton had it mostly right: balance the budget, run a lean government, invest in education and innovation, and continue to expand the safety net to the extent resources allow. Democrats need to hone this message and make it real for a whole new class of voters who have, incorrectly in my mind, come to the conclusion that Government is the problem. In fact, Government can either be a help or hinderance - it depends on the quality of our leaders and the attentiveness of our citizenry.

Written Sunday, October 5

Posted by Garrett Gruener on October 7, 2003 at 05:46 PM | Permalink | Comments (17)

Imitation Is The Sincerest Form of Flattery

On Friday the Contra Costa Times ran an article entitled, "Davis begins his final push, emphasizing the 'three Es'" Guess what Davis' three E's are: the economy, education and the environment.

Posted by Garrett Gruener on October 4, 2003 at 05:25 PM | Permalink | Comments (7)

The Art of the Possible

Politics is the art of the possible.

My goal, from day one, has been to make the debate more substantive, to bring forward bold new ideas, to move the state off dead center, and to improve the quality of the political discussion. These are lofty aims and I've had more success with some than with others. But we've made progress, and I'm very proud of the type of campaign we've run. The day is coming when a candidate will be able to win based on ideas discussed on the Internet, rather than sound bites broadcast, at great cost, on television.

But not today. I've been against the recall from the outset. It's a highly partisan effort that won't improve the mangement of our state or allow us to break the deadlock in Sacramento. Likewise, from the beginning, I've said that I didn't want to help elect Arnold Schwarzenegger. This election could be close and, therefore, I've concluded that the right thing to do is to urge people to vote against the recall and for the most viable candidate closest to my positions. That person is Cruz Bustamante.

This was not an easy decision. I went into my first meeting with the Lt. Governor unsure of whether I would endorse him in the end. I talked with him extensively about my approach and my positions. Ultimately, I concluded that he's the best choice. I hope the recall is defeated, and failing that, that Cruz Bustamante is elected. I think I'd make a still better choice for Governor, but that's not in the cards this time around.

But, for those who have supported me and my effort, don't worry. I 'm going to keep website alive and I will stay involved.

Posted by Garrett Gruener on October 4, 2003 at 04:39 PM | Permalink | Comments (7)

Yes on Bustamante

It's been a long day. I'll write more about my decision to withdraw from the gubernatorial race and endorse Lt. Governor Bustamante after a good night's sleep. But briefly, after much deliberation, I concluded that endorsing Cruz was the right thing to do, both because he is a good guy and because I can't stand the thought of helping to elect Arnold. Cruz is an experienced leader who might actually be able to drive through the grand compromise we need in Sacramento. Arnold, by contrast, has demonstrated nothing but arrogance and irresponsible disregard for the facts. I look at Arnold and I see George Bush in Terminator clothing.

But most of all, I feel good that my campaign of serious ideas about serious challenges has reached thousands of Californians and I'm looking forward to building on what we've achieved.

More tomorrow.

Posted by Garrett Gruener on October 2, 2003 at 10:39 PM | Permalink | Comments (23)