Dear Friend, supporter, family: When I decided to run for California governor around a year ago, my wife Trini said, “you have to take this serious.” She meant this could not be a symbolic campaign or one that only raises issues. I had to provide real solutions and I had to run to win. However, I have good reason—like millions of Californians—to be wary of U.S. elections as a wholly undemocratic process, dominated by two parties that are two sides of the same coin, and where corporations control the big funds as well as who gets heard and who wins. Today millions of potential voters don’t register and millions who are registered don’t vote. I can hardly blame them. Therefore, if I ran I’d have to unveil the undemocratic nature of elections in a complicated crisis-ridden capitalist world while at the same time fight to make voting meaningful again. I knew I couldn’t do this by being a better candidate, but a different candidate. I wouldn’t take corporate donations and I wouldn’t make any deals. I refused to garner funds just to feed a growing “elections” industry that makes it near impossible for less heeled candidates to participate. While voters needed more voices and real choices, California made this difficult by having nonpartisan primary elections where only the top two vote getters, regardless of party or no party affiliation, would get to run for the general November elections. I also had to address the key issues affecting Californians—the increasingly poisoned and unstable environment, including a multi-year drought; economic distress, home foreclosures, growing joblessness; and concerns like the failing and bloated prison system that has more to do with poverty and race than crime (and growing beatings and murders by police of poor residents). My campaign had to be the intersection of the three pillars of a healthy society—a clean and green environment, a thriving economy and social justice for all. I also called the campaign “Imagine a New California.” In a time of “austerity” measures that made more people poorer and a much smaller number richer, we had to imagine the kind of state we needed and deserved, not the one being thrust on us by Governor Brown and the Democratic Party—and their cronies in the Republican Party. Against all odds, we were able to get around 200 volunteers statewide, to obtain 5,000 signatures and/or funds to be on the ballot as well as the endorsements of the Green Party of California, the U.S. Justice Party, the Mexican American Political Association, Corazon Del Pueblo of Boyle Heights, El Hormiquero of Pacoima, PODER of Santa Barbara, Chicanos Unidos of Orange County, Brooklyn & Boyle magazine, Chicano scholar Rudy Acuna, former Green Party vice-presidential candidate Rose Clemente, former California lawyer and whistle blower Kathleen Carroll, African American poet Jeffery Martin, and Vagabond Books editor Mark Lipman, among others. We traveled eleven times up and down the state—standing with the elderly being evicted in San Francisco; family and friends of 13-year-old Andy Lopez, killed by a sheriff’s deputy in Santa Rosa; anti-fracking demonstrators in Fresno; a Martin Luther King Day march against poverty in Sacramento; with college student Aloni Bonilla, beaten while handcuffed by a California Highway Patrol officer; protestors against Exide battery recycling plant that was poisoning some 115,000 residents of L.A.’s eastside; students being pushed out of their school in Watts; anti-Monsanto demonstrators on the steps of the state’s capitol; reading poetry during an Open Mic held in a garage in scandal-ridden Bell due to lack of arts and cultural resources; with around 100 day laborers in the Napa Valley; some 7,000 marchers on Cesar Chavez day in San Fernando; close to 3,000 people in Salinas protesting the murders of three farmworkers in 90 days by police… and on and on. Despite a major media blackout, articles and interviews on me appeared in the Huffington Post, Fox News Latino, Los Angeles Times, Truthout, Mint Press News, Orange County Weekly, Monterey County Weekly, San Francisco Bay Guardian, Truthdig, KPFK, Radio Bilinque, Monterey Herald, Daily Californian, Univision, La Opinion, and more. And then on June 3, the day of elections, I was able to get 53,220 votes. With one of the lowest voter turnouts, without one corporate dollar and no big media attention, I was 6th of 15 candidates and first among the seven third-party and “no party preference” candidates. Statewide, our campaign beat Governor Brown's only Democratic challenger and two of Brown's Republican challengers. We didn’t win but we did win—we’ve now laid a foundation for a new movement in California around the issues that matter. We plan to continue the “Imagine a New California” campaign through November with a website, conferences, social media, blogs, podcasts, editorials, talks, and more. We plan to create a network and schools for revolutionary change, to engender new leaders and possible future candidates with new vision, skills and organized hope. I owe this all to you—my friends, volunteers, and supporters. I owe this to my family and the thousands who voted for me. Please join with me as we move forward for a new, integral and just California that aligns resources to human needs, that works for everyone—and not just the powerful and wealthy. Imagine a new California—then let’s work together to make this happen. Respect and justice, Luis J. Rodriguez c/s
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