Bowen Stands Out in Special Election Field
April 24, 2011
This week early voting will begin in the open primary to fill Jane Harman’s Southern California Congressional seat. Of the sixteen candidates running, I have only interacted with one. I met her in 2003 when I sat next to her at a witness table in a Senate hearing room in Sacramento to testify against her bill. I knew I was sitting next to an accomplished legislator who was a force to be reckoned with. That view has not changed, which is why I am supporting Secretary of State Debra Bowen in this race.
Before sitting down next her, I knew of her from the leadership role she played as Chairwoman of the Senate Energy Committee during the Enron Energy Crisis. In opposing her on internet legislation, I recognized that whether it was the internet or the vagaries of the California Power Exchange she was not afraid to dive into complex issues. For example, she was the author of the nation’s first law regulating unsolicited commercial email (aka “spam”) and legislation that protected victims of identity theft by requiring consumer credit bureaus to place fraud alerts and freezes on consumer accounts when requested.
In fact, when she, Jackie Speier and a few other members who had played critical roles in developing California internet policy were termed out, there was a huge void to fill. So big, in fact, that I launched an effort through the California Bar to develop a primer on cyberspace issues for Sacramento policy makers.
As Secretary of State she had the guts to decertify Diebold and other election machine vendors, a move that won her the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award. She also has done a remarkable job at improving transparency for her operations, which is consistent with her commitment to an honest and open government. For example, as cutbacks have slowed processing some business filings such as articles of incorporation, she has posted on the website the date of items currently being processed.
Do I always agree with Ms. Bowen? No; but I suspect the same is true for the other candidates as well. The reason why she has my support, however, is that she has a sound grasp of the issues and will be a strong progressive voice for California in Washington.
Ultimately, however, the test is not what a candidate stands for, but how they can translate that into results. On that point, I am reminded of the fact that Henry Ford once said “you can’t build a reputation on what you’re going to do.” In her nearly twenty years in Sacramento, Debra Bowen has built a reputation of vision and results. I am confident she will do the same for California as the newest member of the House of Representatives.