Democratic candidates start new year in the Mother Lode

By Ross Johnson
    • Several Democratic contenders campaigning for races that will be on the June 2018 primary ballot met with members of the public over the past two weeks in Sonora and San Andreas…

…Next up at the Sonora session, Pat Harris, a Los Angeles-based civil rights attorney, made his pitch to the crowd. Harris seeks to replace Democratic U.S. Sen. Diane Feinstein.

Harris is a former public defender and criminal defense attorney. He portrays himself as a progressive Democrat, challenging an incumbent he believes is too soft on President Donald Trump and too accepting of large corporate donations.

“I’m not a politician,” Harris said. “I’m not in politics. I have a philosophical difference from Sen. Feinstein. She said Trump could be a good president if we gave him a chance. She should have raised hell about the Merrick Garland Supreme Court nomination, but she didn’t. She said we don’t need rabble-rousers. I disagree. We have to have fighters in the Senate. I’ve spent the last 23 years as a civil rights and criminal defense attorney. Every single morning I get up and I fight.

“I’ve fought for the guilty. I’ve fought for the innocent. I’ve fought for people with money, people with no money, regardless of race or sexual orientation. I’ve taken on Pfizer, Well Fargo, Bank of America and the Catholic Church. We need a voice for those who don’t have one. We need a voice for a new America. I believe in single-payer health care and equal rights. I believe in criminal justice reform and jail reform and I stand for eliminating for-profit prisons. Our defense budget is way out of control, and I want to take money out of their budget specifically for medical, scientific and environmental research. I want us to be on 100 percent renewable energy by 2050 and we can do it.

“What are we going to do about the young people?” he asked. “This is the first generation that won’t be better off than the generation before them. Young people are not connected to the Democratic Party. I’m going to be a one-term senator. I’ll take it for six years, but then I want someone younger to come in.

“We have to get away from the incessant corporate welfare,” Harris continued. “People ask me, ‘How are you going to pull this off?’ I don’t have $50 million to run against Feinstein, but I am going to be up and down this state. You’re not going to be able to get rid of me.

“We were at a bar in Sonora called The Office the night Feinstein announced she was running for re-election. They were sipping champagne by the pool at a mansion in Beverly Hills. I will not take corporate donations.”

Among his campaign goals, Harris identified limiting the ability of corporations and political action committees to fund candidates and preserving net neutrality.

“I want to represent these people,” Harris told the Enterprise in an interview after his appearance. “Feinstein represents her contributors. I want to represent working people. This is my second trip here and I’m coming back. When was the last time she was here?”

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