Capitol Alert

California progressive on Oprah 2020: We don’t need our own Donald Trump

Oprah Winfrey’s rousing address at the Golden Globes, along with confirmation from people close to her that she’s looking at the race, has vaulted the media mogul into the 2020 presidential conversation.

But within hours of the story landing, predictable backlash ensued. A picture of Winfrey giving Harvey Weinstein a kiss on the cheek at a past Critics’ Choice Awards show rocketed across Twitter. Opinion pieces sprouted up under headlines like Democrats don’t need a celebrity president and Get a grip. Oprah should not run for president.

In California, where the state’s top Democrats are at the tip of the spear when it comes to resisting President Donald Trump, a leading progressive voice is questioning the rationale for a possible Winfrey candidacy. RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of National Nurses United and a close ally of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, said the nation doesn’t need another celebrity candidate without a record.

“We just did this, and it’s called Donald Trump,” DeMoro told Capitol Alert, allowing that Winfrey would be far more humanistic than the president, but adding, “So would anybody. I can’t even tell you what Oprah Winfrey stands for because I have no idea. She makes people cry a lot, I know that. She’s got the heartstrings thing going.”

A key voice in the progressive movement nationally, DeMoro said she might have another opinion of the former talk show host if Winfrey came into the debate with an in-depth idea of how government works, along with formulated positions on domestic and international issues. “Oprah Winfrey is cool, but we need someone who really knows what they are doing. We have to unravel a real disaster here.

“Ultimately, the presidency is a job. And you want your most qualified people in that position,” she said. “Not the most popular. Not (those with) name recognition. You want depth and substance. Let’s talk about where this country is and needs to go.”

DeMoro said she isn’t surprised by the nation’s fixation on personality, because the captivation allows people to escape their own lives. Yet she believes that this unhealthily diverts focus from the causes and effects of the nation’s economic structure.

Summarizing the outlook of a star-struck nation, she concluded: “‘We don’t have time to study politics. So we live through other people.’”

ANOTHER VIEW: Rep. Jackie Speier, who may have recently opted against a 2018 run for governor, offered a contrasting view of whether Winfrey should contend for president: “Run, Oprah, run! An army of women would fight for you in #2020election.

“I just texted my girlfriends in Congress, ‘I’m for Oprah!’” Rep. Lois Frankel, of Florida, chairwoman of the Democratic Women’s Working Group, added Monday.

Tweeted April Ryan, White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief for American Urban Radio Networks: “If @Oprah ran for president in 2020, she is every person. She has been poor & now rich. She is also a self made Billionaire. She has a grasp of the issues as she used to cover local politics. She can articulate any issue and she has mass appeal beyond race & gender.”

Welcome to the AM Alert, your morning rundown on California policy and politics. To receive it regularly, please sign up here.

WORTH REPEATING: I cooked brunch & gave the kids a Spanish lesson this morning while (San Diego County supervisor candidate and former Assemblyman) @nathanfletcher was walking precincts. Now he is taking the boys swimming while I seek my endorsement from San Diego Enviro Dems. This is the life of a 2 candidate household with 4 kids. #ElectParents

– Democratic Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez of San Diego on the pull of politics

BUY ME A DREAM: California’s most affordable big city? It’s not Sacramento, writes Sunset Magazine.

PAGING MR. STEYER: Tom Steyer, the liberal billionaire donor and environmental activist isn’t going to jump into the U.S. Senate race with Democrats Dianne Feinstein and de León, but that doesn’t mean he won’t have a presence. Perhaps the most intriguing question about the race at the moment is whether Steyer decides to fund a Super PAC supporting de León, who he’s worked with closely before issuing some criticism of Feinstein. Shortly after his announcement, Feinstein’s campaign issued a statement thanking Steyer for his work on climate change and other issues, adding, “I look forward to his continued activism in the months ahead as we campaign to take back both chambers of Congress to protect the nation from the dangerous Trump agenda.”

NET NEUTRALITY: De León starts his Tuesday with a press conference at San Jose City Hall to tout his SB 460, the California Consumer Protection and Net Neutrality Act of 2018. More on the bill.

PRESCHOOL TIME: State Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, is introducing a bill that would seek to provide universal preschool to all four year olds in California. Its first hearing is expected by March.

BUILD, BABY, BUILD: A couple days before Gov. Jerry Brown presents his final proposed state budget – and two weeks ahead of his last State of the State address laying out his priorities – a pair of Assembly Republicans have written to the governor imploring him to invest more in the state’s infrastructure. Assemblymen Chad Mayes and Jay Obernolte mention expanding lane capacity on roads and freeways to reduce congestion and spending more on grid technologies to protect the state’s electrical supply in the face of natural disasters and possible terrorist attacks. They conclude the letter with a quote, “We must dare to build, to do, and to build!” words they attribute to Brown’s late father, former Gov. Pat Brown, in a 1960 convention speech.

ON OUR RADAR: Six of the seven candidates running for governor this year are planning to attend a town hall meeting on Saturday at the University of Southern California. Attending the 90-minute meeting are Travis Allen, John Chiang, John Cox, Delaine Eastin, Gavin Newsom and Antonio Villaraigosa. Former Rep. Doug Ose was not in the race when the event was organized.

Below are the first three in a series of posts about the seven candidates, with more to follow.

Five things you need to know about Travis Allen

Five things you need to know about John Cox

Five things you need to know about Gavin Newsom

THE CITY: A day after former state Sen. Mark Leno filed to run for San Francisco mayor, pledging to be “a voice for all San Franciscans,” Supervisor Jane Kim plans to enter the race today. An early poll showed Leno leading acting Mayor London Breed, who is supported by some powerful interests in the city. The race comes at a hinge moment for a city that has prospered mightily from the tech boom, but one where soaring housing prices, traffic and homelessness have caused many to question the cost. On Monday, Assemblyman David Chiu issued a statement confirming he won’t run in June. The election follows the death last month of Mayor Ed Lee.

FROM THE OPINION SIDE: UC Berkeley’s George Lakoff and former Brown spokesman Gil Durán write that Trump is using Twitter to manipulate the country. Their suggestions for how to stop falling for it.

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago

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