On Thursday afternoon, four leaders in Democratic politics in this region and this state came to the UC Davis campus in Freeborn Plaza for a campaign rally. There were approximately 150 students who ended listening to the speeches from these four leaders.
The event was organized by the Davis College Democrats--Don Gibson, the President,;Brandon Craig, the Vice President; and Jack Zwald were some of the many key organizers and also introduced several of the main speakers.
The headliner was Lt. Governor John Garamendi, who is going to be one of the Democratic candidate in 2010 for the Governor. Also there were two legislative candidates in Davis and Yolo County--Mariko Yamada who is running as the Democratic nominee for the 8th Assembly District and Lois Wolk who is running as the Democratic nominee for the 5th Senate District in a heated battled against Republican Greg Aghazarian. Finally, Bill Camp, head of the Sacramento Central Labor Council.
John Garamendi gave an impassioned and fiery speech attacking John McCain, Sarah Palin, the Republicans, talking about education and the state budget.
The Lt. Governor began generally:
"We are one month away from one of the most important elections that we have had in a generation, your generation. This is about you Davis students, this is about your future. It is about how this nation is going to represent itself across the world. Whether we are going to continue with the war in Iraq, whether we are actually going to finally deal with the terrorists that attacked this country, or whether we are going to be diverted on a false war brought to us on false premises, by a false president."Garamendi then talked about Vice Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin:
"There is a debate tonight. Oh come now. It is important who the Vice President is. You look back on the recent history of this nation and it is common that the Vice President becomes the President. This is about the Presidency. This is about who could become President and tonight we are going to see a defining moment in this election... When a person makes a choice about who they choose to be their successor, which is what happens when you choose the Vice Presidential candidate, you're making a statement about your values as President. You're making a statement about how you perceive this nation's future. There's difference here, Barack Obama made a choice, and he reached back to a very successful, well experienced individual who understands foreign policy, who understands the nature of public policy in the United States, whether it's the economy, social, economic issues, environmental issues, international issues... And he chose Joe Biden. A man with experience in the issues of this nation. A man with experience in the issues of the world. Solid. Knowledgeable. Capable of being President. It tells you about the way in which the next President thinks."Garamendi then talked about the bailout Bill:
"Now at the Republican Convention, McCain came up with a surprise. You draw your own conclusions here. I drew mine. Experience--limited. Knowledge--watch TV. Go to youtube. It's there to be seen. Ability to debate--we'll find out tonight. Ability to be President... oh no we're not talking about Palin, we're talking about McCain making one of the most fundamental decisions that a President must make. That is to choose somebody who could become President at any moment. This is not an academic exercise, this is not about learning. This is about John McCain and how he thinks. Ultimately it's about governing."
"Wall Street walked away with tens of billions of dollars and left mom and pop in Davis and Stockton with mortgages that they couldn't possibly pay, this is time for a change. This afternoon, Congress will vote on a bailout bill. Fortunately the Democrats stood up to the President, to Secretary of the Treasury Paulson, and said wait a minute, enough already for the high and the mighty. We want this bill to at least have something for the homeowners, for main street, for the men and women out there that are losing their jobs, losing their homes, they did the best they could. It's a much improved bill. It's not the one I would like to see. But it's the one we need... But do not forget the policy that the Republican administration and the Republican congress brought before the American people. They brought a policy that once again took care of their friends at the top.
"Some people want to say this is economic class warfare, and the answer is that's exactly what they have done to the American public is to create an economic class war because they have made the wealthy, wealthier and the poor and the working men and women, poorer. And it is time for a change and we're going to do that."
"Here in California, this is the worst budget in all of my years dating back to 1974. The worst budget ever was signed by the Governor. And in the process of signing it, he made even worse. He took out his veto pen and he took $500 million away from the poor, from the elderly, from the disabled, and from those who depend upon the public sector for their basic health care and indeed their livelihood and lives. It was mean spirited and it was wrong.
"That budget also had another problem, and it's right here on this campus, just to keep pace, with the number of students that come to the campuses of the University of California and inflation, we needed $300 million more. Not to add, not to enhance, not to provide the classes so that you can graduate in four years rather than five or six, but to simply keep pace. The budget is $200 million short of that and of that $100 million that was added, you the students throughout the university campuses, you paid $130 million of that amount of money. It is wrong and I'm telling you we have got to stop it. We must stop it now.
"The great California society and education was built on a free public education at every level, K through 12, the community colleges, the University of California, the State University System, and it is rapidly disappearing because of some wrongheaded policies and total lack of history of California. A free public education no longer exists in California. The taxes that were increased in this budget were minuscule except for one... The single biggest tax increase was a tax on students. It is called a fee indirectly because it is nothing but a very direct tax on students."
"Some of you are studying government, some of you are studying economics, I want you to study a particularly stupid tax. When you tax students you have done something incredibly stupid. President Yudoff, you've listened to me and I want you to listen right now, NO MORE STUDENT FEE INCREASES. Not in this budget. Not in the next budget. And not in the budgets ahead. Because you will deny access to the students who will build the California economy in the future, who will be the teachers, who will be the engineers, who will be the researchers. Stop it! Stop it now! No more tax on students."Bill Camp was the first speaker. He urged people to put elect Mariko Yamada to the State Assembly and Lois Wolk to the State Senate. He said he was a strong supporter of Mariko Yamada, candidate for the State Assembly, but Lois Wolk is the one now who faces the tough challenge.
"Study the history of California. Study how this state became the 7th wealthiest economy in the world. It was done with the best education system in the world. We are not there today... You cannot do it on the cheap. Starve the education system and you will starve the future of California. And we are well on the way to slow starvation diet today. In 1990, the state, the economy of California, the people of California supported the University of California students to a tune of $15,000 per student. Last year, the people of California, the economy, the seventh largest economy in the world, supported the students at the University of California at a rate of $10,000 per student. A full one-third decrease in the support that the people of California provided to the students who will be the future economy. That is stupid economy policy. That is bad tax policy. And I want every student, on every campus, to rise up and say, enough already. We will not have this anymore, we understand the history of this great state. We know that when the wealth of this great state is spent on the future generations, that economic wealth occurs along with social justice."
"Lois Wolk will be a fighter because she's from Davis. You put her in the State Senate and she'll make sure that everyone that comes in to be a regent respects you and respects your educational opportunity. You want to do something about the misuse of power by Arnold Schwartzenegger and the UC Regents, you get Lois Wolk elected. She's the one who will be your voice and fighter."Bill Camp told the students that he talks to people in Honduras and all around the world, and everyone is watching this election. He told the students, "It is you who can turn the world around." He emphasized how important this election was to this country and this world. "I beg you to be a part of this Democratic process, to be the champion to lead this nation."
Assembly Candidate Mariko Yamada was introduced by former Davis School Board Candidate and Vice Chair of the Yolo County Democratic Central Committee Bob Schelen as an underdog who won the nomination and a fighter for the values of the underdogs.
Yamada told the crowd:
"It was a very very tough and grueling primary that we came through. Yes, we were the underdogs. But we went direct to the people with our message. It goes to show you that all the money and all the hype in the world, does not replace good old fashioned hard work, effort, and connecting directly with the voters. And that's what this theme is today. Just what brother Bill Camp just said, the whole world is watching us..."Finally Senate Candidate Lois Wolk addressed the crowd. She attacked her opponent, Assemblyman Greg Aghazarian and Assembly Republicans.
"I am running in the Senate, as you've heard, against someone who won't even mention the fact that he's a Republican. He won't mention his party. He's not proud he's a Republican. He never mentions it and I understand why. In the Assembly, the Republicans and my opponent have opposed some very interesting bills.Wolk faces a tough challenge for the Senate seat left open by termed out Senator Mike Machado. It is a district that has a 15 point Democratic advantage, but it is one of just two open and targeted seats by the Republicans who are pumping in millions in support of Assemblyman Aghazarian. Mariko Yamada faces an easier challenge in the heavily Democratic 8th Assembly District that encompasses Yolo and East Solano County.
They have opposed the successful effort to ban lead from children's candy. Think about that for a minute. The Governor, a Republican, signed that bill.
They have opposed cleaning up the polluted air in the valley. One in four children takes an inhaler to school. Think about that.
They have opposed most recently the effort to clean up the shoddy mortgage broker practices that have been occurring in this state. Think about that in a Senate district that is probably number one in terms of foreclosures.
They and my opponent have opposed flood protection for homeowners in the Central Valley--an area that floods all too commonly.
And they voted against protecting seniors from those whose caregivers would steal their money.
That's why Republicans are running away from being Republicans."
Lt. Governor John Garamendi announced this summer he will run for the Governorship. He ran back in 1994 but lost to then State Controller Kathleen Brown. Some of the possible opposition are San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsome, Los Angeles Mayor and Former Speaker of the Assembly Antonio Villaraigosa, Attorney General and Former Governor Jerry Brown, and possibly State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell. That would be in 2010.
In the meantime, the Presidential race and the legislative races are focal points in this area. Democrats are relying heavily on strong student turnout for Barack Obama and a host of other issues.
---Doug Paul Davis reporting