Column: Why this Democrat is backing Larry Elder for governor
Longtime Democrat Gloria Romero really doesn’t care who she ticks off.
In a state where the Democratic Party is deeply linked to teachers’ unions, the former California state senator has been a strong advocate for school choice.
She believes the California Teachers Assn. and United Teachers Los Angeles are great for teachers and terrible for students, most of whom are black and Latino.
It’s no coincidence, she says, that more than 70 percent of California prison inmates, most of whom are also black and Latino, do not have a high school diploma.
“My mantra is, ‘If we don’t educate, we’re going to incarcerate,’” she told me Monday when we met to discuss the recall of California Governor Gavin Newsom.
During her career in Sacramento, she championed public school reform, writing a statewide “parental induction law” that allowed parents of children in poorly performing schools to demand. changes in school administration and another law which allowed students in the state’s worst performing schools to apply for the best, regardless of dividing lines.
“This law that I wrote in 2010 basically said we can identify the 1,000 worst performing schools in California and say ya basta, we got out of here.
For the record, I applaud and respect his dedication to improving public education; I do not agree with her point of view on unions and the solutions she offers.
Romero, 66, said she didn’t agree with just about everything radio talk show host Larry Elder, the apparent Republican leader, represents.
But she is so disappointed with Newsom and other California Democrats who have blocked public education reform efforts that she has become an enthusiastic supporter of seniors and has performed in commercials in both English and Spanish endorsing her quest to governor.
“The first thing was the arrogance of the ruling classes – rules for you, but not for me,” she told me when we met at her daughter’s house, Soledad Ursua, a member of the Venice Neighborhood Council. . “The French Laundry thing was SO symbolic. ”
She doesn’t mind that Newsom is privately educating her children. “But what about the rest of us?” she said. “Why can’t we have scholarships to go to the school of our choice? “
Still, she knows that supporting Elder is, as she put it, “a roll of the dice.”
“I recognize an opportunity to throw an adjustable wrench into a system that has violated our education rights and robbed us of the American Dream.”
Romero grew up poor in Barstow, at the end of a road so sandy that his father had to carry a shovel in his car in case they got stuck.
As Latinos, she said, “we’ve been treated like crap.” But, as his father told him, “We also pay taxes.
He got the neighbors to sign a petition demanding that the road be paved.
She felt fear when a neighbor’s son became a teacher. “I remember going to his house to bow down, ‘Oh my god, you’re going to be a teacher!'”
Her family only had one Bible and a few old books that they read and reread, but she still said, “I got the message that education is the key to the American dream. This is what gets you out of poverty. It is metamorphosis. It will change your life. “
In high school, she overheard children talking about college applications. When she asked her advisor for one, she replied, “He said it wouldn’t be necessary. Enraged, she asked for one, which he threw at her, she said.
She attended Barstow Community College, transferred to Long Beach State, and received her doctorate in psychology from UC Riverside.
If you know a little about California politics, you might know the rest: After a career as a college teacher, she ran for the California Assembly, then the State Senate, eventually becoming the first woman to lead the Democratic Senate majority, and appointed in 2010. Throughout, she has focused on educational reform – in public schools and prisons – and alienated many colleagues while throughout the process.
She says she used to walk around the Capitol with a list of failing public schools, rolled up like a diploma she rolled out at meetings. A few times during Martin Luther King Jr.’s vacation, she wrote op-eds noting that among failing schools in California, six were named after King, three after Rosa Parks and five after Cesar. Chavez.
“These revered leaders would not stand having their names affixed to schools that send more children to prison than to college,” she wrote in the San Diego Union-Tribune in 2010. “I can’t stand it either.”
The current recall is one in a long line of proven Republican maneuvers – and frankly an abuse of democracy – in a state where the party is vastly outnumbered by Democrats and Independents.
But it is a mistake to claim that voter disaffection does not cross party lines.
In a Emerson College / Nexstar survey conducted on July 31 and August 1, 54% of likely Latino voters said they supported the recall, a wake-up call if there is one for complacent Democrats.
I don’t understand why a viable Democratic candidate was not offered for Question 2 of the recall ballot, which asks voters to choose a successor if Newsom is defeated.
For Romero, however, it was “the classic Democratic Party strategy. You’ve basically shut down the opposition no matter how shitty your candidate is, ”she said. “I think this is a real mistake.”
In fact, she said, she wishes the Democrats offered State Treasurer Fiona Ma, Comptroller Betty Yee or even former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, whom she backed against Newsom. in 2018 and would have chosen Elder in a hot second.
But to deny a Democratic alternative on question 2 “so that they can save the prince from the French laundry?” she said. “I think the Democratic Party should be held accountable. ”
What about the concept of party unity? I asked.
“Party unity against what’s good for California?” She replied. “If I wanted party unity, I would never have gone with Barack Obama.”
In 2007, she became state co-chair of her first presidential campaign and belonged to a group called Democrats for Obama. Party officials informed her that there was no such thing.
I hope Newsom is not recalled. Elder would be a disaster for California. But maybe that is the price the ruling party is paying for letting our children down.