Capitol Alert

Elizabeth Warren is running for president. Five things Californians need to know about her

Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren has been surging in the polls coming off her performance in the first debate. The Running on a progressive platform, the Massachusetts senators hopes her policy proposals will resonate with California voters.

She is emphasizing income inequality and an unjust economy in her appeal to voters in the Golden State.

“We get enough people in this, we can take our government back and make it not work just for a thinner and thinner slice at the top,” she said in an interview with the California Nation podcast. “We make it work for everyone.”

Among the policies she’s highlighting are universal health care, universal preschool, higher salaries for child care workers and teachers, student loan debt cancellation and free tuition and fees at technical schools, community colleges and four-year public colleges and universities. She’d pay for many of these plans through a tax on the super wealthy.

Here are five things you need to know about Elizabeth Warren as she campaigns in the Golden State:

1. She has ties to California

Warren has family in California. Her daughter, three grandchildren and her daughter’s husband live in the Los Angeles area. Her son and his wife also live in the state. Warren said she first visited California as a child when her eldest siblings joined the military.

“All three of my brothers joined the military, and the two oldest ones were both stationed in California at the same time, one at Vandenberg and one at Riverside,” Warren said.

2. Warren wants a ‘transition period’ before abolishing private health insurance

California has sought to shore up Obamacare by establishing its own individual mandate as the national debate over health care shakes out.

Warren is one of three candidates who favor abolishing the private health insurance system in place of a government-run Medicare-for-all plan to lower consumer costs.

She has said she’s fully on board with a proposal from Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. While she wants to get to a place where private health insurance is no longer around, she said she’d like to see a “transition period” before that’s accomplished.

“(Abolishing private insurance) is the plan,” Warren said. “That’s where we need to go. But I’m a co-sponsor on Bernie’s bill, and as Bernie puts in it, we’ve got to have a transition. It’s gonna take a transition period to get there. That’s built right into Bernie’s bill. But the key is that we have to agree on where we’re headed, and where we’ve got to be headed is the best possible health care coverage at the lowest possible cost.”

3. Warren won’t criticize Bernie Sanders

Warren declined to draw contrasts between herself and fellow presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders, who has also polled well in California. She said they’ve been close before she even entered politics.

“I’ve known Bernie and been friends with Bernie forever and ever and ever, long before I ever got into politics,” Warren said. “I can’t talk about Bernie and what Bernie wants to do. He’ll get out there and make that case. For me, I know why I’m in this fight: I’m in this fight because I believe that a government that works for those at the top and not everyone else is corrupt. We need to fight that corruption head on.”

Asked if the two have formed a pact not to attack each other, Warren replied, “We just don’t attack each other. It’s not about a pact. Bernie’s been my friend forever, and I’ve been his friend forever.”

4. She and her husband have made $10 million in the past decade

Warren and her husband, Bruce Mann, have accumulated a lot of wealth in recent years. According to 11 years of jointly filed tax returns the campaign released earlier this year, the couple has made more than $10 million.

Last year, Warren earned $325,000 from book sales and $175,000 from her Senate salary, while her husband got $400,000 as a Harvard University professor.

Warren acknowledges their income, but also notes she had opportunities the current generation may not.

“Bruce and I both grew up without much, and I am the first to say — and so is he — how deeply fortunate we have both been,” Warren said. “I graduated from a commuter college that cost $50 a semester. ... That opportunity gave me a chance in life. I want every kid to have an opportunity. That’s why I’m in this fight. It’s why I believe that it’s time for us to say that all of our public colleges and universities should be tuition and fee free.”

She explained she’d also reduce barriers by dedicating $50 billion to historically black colleges and universities.

5. She wants to decriminalize border crossings

Warren said she’d repeal Section 1325 of the U.S. immigration code that makes it a criminal misdemeanor to cross the border without documentation.

Under her presidency, she vowed to make it a civil offense.

“The whole notion of criminalizing the approach to coming across the border without documentation is not making anybody any safer,” Warren said. “We just need to be in a different position on this. It’s really important on immigration that we concentrate our resources on the people who pose threats to us, and that’s not children. It’s not mamas fleeing terror from gangs down in Central America. It’s not people trying to build a life who have family here.”

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Bryan Anderson is a political reporter for The Bee. He covers the California Legislature and reports on wildfires and transportation. He also hosts The Bee’s “California Nation” podcast.