Why Centrist Michael Shellenberger Challenges California Governor Gavin Newsom

California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) defeated a conservative campaign to recall him in September by nearly 24 percentage points.

But with Golden State struggling to cope with a increase in violent crime and exterior homeless camps in large cities, criticism of Newsom Michael Shellenbergera centrist author and nonprofit leader, sees an opening to succeed where previous challengers have failed.

“I’m just heartbroken by the human tragedy on our streets, sidewalks, highways and parks,” Shellenberger told HuffPost. “It’s completely unnecessary.”

The gubernatorial bid, Shellenberger explained, is “just a logical evolution of my advocacy to reform our drug, mental illness, housing, energy and education policies.”

A Berkeley resident and founder of the advocacy group Environmental progressShellenberger is the author of two books that aim to pierce leftist pieties from the perspective of a moderate liberal who shares some of the overarching goals of the left.

Shellenberger’s new tome, “San Fransicko: How Progressives Are Ruining Cities,” is a critique of the “housing first” and harm reduction approaches to homelessness which he says have failed to improve the standard of living for homeless people in California and have actively undermined the quality of life in the communities where these people live.

Shellenberger proposes as an alternative that the state strengthen its ability to provide safe, indoor shelter beds for people living on the streets, but also practice a kind of “tough love” with people suffering from drug addiction in an effort to force out. outdoor camps and in treatment facilities or shelters. He also plans to consolidate the maze of city-, county- and state-level mental health service agencies into a single entity he calls “CalPsych” that would effectively deploy resources to trouble spots across the state.

“The Beatles were wrong: love isn’t all you need,” Shellenberger said, summing up his criticism of the militant left. “You also need hard work, discipline, rules and civilization.”

Rather than a republican-leaning state, Shellenberger cites the Netherlands, where he conducted research for “San Fransicko,” as his political model.

“My goal is for us to look more like Amsterdam, not more like Houston,” he said.

Republicans have long castigated Newsom as a naive opportunist who is too indebted to leftist pundits and activist groups to adequately address the state’s homelessness crisis and other issues.

In a deeply democratic state, Newsom nevertheless took advantage of the conservatism of his opponents. One of the main reasons he was able to easily send off the 2021 encore effort was so he could credibly portray his main rival, right-wing radio host Larry Elder, as a Donald Trump sidekick who was too extreme for California.

What makes Shellenberger’s candidacy potentially unique is that he doesn’t have the ideological background of Elder, or even State Sen. Brian Dahle, a conservative Republican and farmer who also challenges Newsom in the primary. nonpartisan state “jungle” on June 7. Shellenberger is instead closer in character to figures like New York City Mayor Eric Adams (D), a moderate critic of certain leftist dogma.

Shellenberger supports abortion rights, gun safety regulations, $15 minimum wage, universal health care, collective bargaining rights and alternatives to incarceration for violations of the law drug-related.

Shellenberger said he was a registered Democrat until April 2021, when he transitioned to “no party preference” – the California term for independent voters. He was a strong supporter of Newsom’s recall, but backed the candidacy of former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, a moderate Republican whose vote total among recall supporters was eclipsed by Elder.

“California is a tarnished gem,” Shellenberger said. “The threats against him are very serious. But on the other hand, we have everything it takes to regain our former glory.

“There’s no reason we can’t, but I think you need to have a little more liberal opinion” than Republicans are offering, he added.

“My goal is for us to look more like Amsterdam, not more like Houston.”

– Michael Shellenberger, centrist candidate for governor of California

Shellenberger focuses his criticism of Newsom — and of the militant left he deems too influential in Newsom’s administration — on the governor’s approach to housing, crime, education, crime, and security policy. energy and the environment.

Shellenberger argues that better and more effective policing requires more funding, not less. He opposes affirmative action and teacher tenure in public schools, and supports a combination of denser urban housing and greater suburban development.

He is also an outspoken critic of some environmentalists’ opposition to nuclear power and what he sees as their unwarranted pessimism, which was the subject of his 2020 book, ‘Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All”.

“I oppose attacks on civilization – whether they come from the far left in the form of radical ‘awakenism’, which wants to have different rights for different people depending on whether they are victims or oppressors, or right-wing attacks, which have attempted to delegitimize our electoral system and regularly invent outlandish conspiracy theories,” he said.

Without the backing of either major political party, Shellenberger faces a rocky climb in his bid to unseat Newsom. Newsom had a campaign war chest of $25 million at the end of 2021.

Shellenberger got off to a late start, deciding to show up only after Faulconer ruled out an offer.

However, thanks to the relative dearth of big-name candidates, Shellenberger hopes to come second in California’s first two nonpartisan primaries and then shore up support among centrist and conservative voters ahead of the November general election. He already has the support of prominent figures in the state’s influential tech industry, including WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg and OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, who have contributed the legal maximum to his campaign.

Moreover, Shellenberger sees signs that the tide is turning on leftist politics in California. For example, voters ousted three of San Francisco’s leftist school board members in February, and the effort to remove leftist San Francisco district attorney Chesa Boudin in June appears to be gaining momentum.

And in Los Angeles, the mayoral race has been dominated by debates over how to handle the city’s homelessness crisis. In that contest, Rep. Karen Bass (D), a progressive, has antagonized some progressive activists with her tough-on-crime rhetoric as she seeks to neutralize the candidacy of real estate billionaire Rick Caruso, who runs more conventionally, centre-right platform.

Shellenberger sees the emergence in California of a centrist, non-partisan coalition that he is about to exploit.

“The real hope here is that I’m someone who can try to bring people together around a pretty sensible agenda of universality [mental-health care]a housing-focused approach to homelessness and greater parental choice in education, as well as high standards to ensure disadvantaged children also receive the education they need” , did he declare.

Shellenberger’s candidacy is the first test of the electoral appeal of a heterodox contingent of public intellectuals and media figures that journalist Bari Weiss – a friend of Shellenberger – has dubbed the “intellectual dark web”.

Namely, it plans to rely on both mainstream media and less conventional sources of news and commentary. Shellenberger was the featured guest on Thursday’s episode of “Joe Rogan Experience,” where he got the chance to talk about his candidacy for nearly three hours to Rogan’s estimated audience of around 11 million listeners. (Shellenberger doesn’t share Rogan’s skepticism about the relative benefits of COVID-19 vaccines.)

Shellenberger acknowledges, however, that his smart style and preference for political discussion may need some tweaking as he embarks on the campaign trail.

“I created a lot of prose,” he said, referring to his books and articles. “And now we have to turn it into poetry.”

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