The Press-Enterprise | July 26, 2017
by Jeff Horseman
Jeff Bleich wants to take the politics out of running for public office. A Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, Bleich expressed disdain for the horse-race aspects of political discourse – How much money did you raise? What’s your base? – during a visit to the San Bernardino Sun offices Tuesday, July 18...
“This is a job interview,” said Bleich, a Bay Area attorney who served as U.S. ambassador to Australia in the Obama administration. “For me, I wouldn’t make decisions so I could run for higher office.”
A former president of the California State University trustee board who clerked for the late Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist, Bleich said the office of lieutenant governor is a perfect fit for what he wants to do.
“There is real power in this role,” he said, noting the lieutenant governor sits on the University of California Board of Regents, the Cal State board and the State Lands Commission. When the lieutenant governor speaks at these meetings, people listen, Bleich added.
Gavin Newsom, the current lieutenant governor, is running to succeed Gov. Jerry Brown when Brown leaves office at the end of 2018.
If he wins, Bleich said he would focus on the trend of automation cutting jobs and wages by creating an education system that can consistently re-train workers for new roles as the economy changes. With people living longer on average, they can expect to have a series of shorter careers during their time in the workforce, he said.
Improving mental health care and cybersecurity and dealing with climate change are other priorities for Bleich, who touted his ability to embrace different solutions while not caring about who gets the credit for solving problems.
State Senate pro Tem Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, who is termed out in 2018, has been raising money for a run at lieutenant governor, although there’s speculation he’d run for U.S. Senate if incumbent Dianne Feinstein retires. Other Democrats in the lieutenant governor race include state Sen. Ed Hernandez, former ambassador to Hungary Eleni Kounalakis and Los Angeles doctor Asif Mahmood.
On the Republican side, state Sen. Anthony Cannella has opened a campaign account.
All candidates for lieutenant governor will compete in the June 2018 primary, with the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, advancing to the November general election.
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