East Bay Endorsement Alert: Janani Ramachandran

Assemblyman Rob Bonta wasn’t a bad member of the state legislature, a garden variety member of the California liberal establishment. He represented a district– the 18th, mostly Oakland, Alameda and San Leandro– that is far more progressive than Bonta… or his wife, Mia, who feels entitled to her husband’s old seat. The district is about a quarter Black, a quarter Latino, a quarter white and a quarter Asian. These are the current registration figures:

  • Democrats- 64.05%
  • independents- 24.79%
  • Republicans- 6.82%

In 2016, Trump took just 8.4% of the vote. The PVI is D+91. It’s a district that deserves a real fighting progressive. The jungle primary takes place June 29. There are 6 Democrats, a Republican and an independent contesting the seat, including Bonta’s wife and progressive champion Janani Ramachandran.

Goal Thermometer Ramachandran, endorsed today by Blue America— you can contribute to her campaign by clicking on the state legislative thermometer on the right– was also endorsed by the San Jose Mercury News which noted that:

“The standout is Janani Ramachandran, a Democrat from Oakland and social justice attorney who hasn’t run for office before but, unlike most of the other candidates, provides a clearly articulated set of priorities and demonstrates an understanding of the complexity of making public policy… Her progressive political priorities align with a district: Raising the minimum wage, criminal justice reform, increasing the housing supply, elimination of restrictions on rent control, Medicare for All and combating climate change… she displays a sharp understanding of many of the policy details.”

The Mercury News gave Bonta’s wife a thumbs down, noting that in their interview with her she was “frustratingly vague on any issues that extended beyond education. And when it came to schools, she resisted the idea of more transparency to ensure state funds that are supposed to help educate needy children are properly spent… [O]nly one [candidate] has a clear and well-articulated policy vision. That’s Ramachandran. Voters should elect her to the state Assembly.”

She has also been endorsed by Our Revolution, the Sunrise Movement, ILWU, the Oakland Tenants Union, Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club, PDA, CWA, Equality California, the East Bay Times, Ro Khanna, Assemblymember Alex Lee and the California Democratic Party Progressive Caucus.

People currying favor with the new Attorney General appear to be contributing to his wife’s campaign and she raised more money than anyone else, despite running on, essentially, nothing except that she’s the wife of the former member. She’s brought in close to a million dollars from corporate special interests.

There Is No Universe In Which I Would Use The Excuse, “It’s Just Too Hard, So I’m Not Even Going To Try”

-by Janani Ramachandran

The stakes are high in this upcoming special election. This is a race about whether we, as Californians, are ready to usher in a true progressive wave, stand up to corporate Democrats and political dynasties, and fight for the leaders who are unequivocally committed to equity and justice. This election is about building trust in our political systems that have failed Californians for far too long– and combatting the deep economic, racial, health, and environmental inequities that have long plagued California but were laid fully bare during this past year of the pandemic.

I am tired of the empty promises that California Democrats constantly make during their campaigns– and watching them cast so many bad votes that harm people and our planet, truly failing to stand up to big corporate power.

We are still waiting for living wages, for a Green New Deal, for Medicare for All, for an end to mass incarceration, for a school system that uplifts every child, and for so many more promises to be fulfilled.

I’m done waiting. That’s why I’m running for California State Assembly in a special election happening in the next 19 days.

In the course of this campaign, people have constantly asked me, why now? You’re only 29 years old. You’re running against the spouse of the second-most powerful politician in California. You’re running against the system and the odds are stacked against you.

And I respond– that’s precisely why I’m running. To challenge the status quo that is failing our people. 

As a social justice attorney, and former home-visiting case manager serving victims of abuse, I am inspired to run because the voices of the communities that I come from and those that I work with have been silenced. Drowned out by political leaders too scared to push for change because of the power of big corporate dollars that finance their campaign in exchange for policies that protect their interests. 

What drives me are all the immigrant mothers I worked with experiencing domestic violence and homelessness. Seeing victims of violence unjustly criminalized by our so-called justice system. Watching families be ripped apart by CPS and ICE.

What drives me are all the individuals I’ve worked with experiencing mental health crises who have been failed by our public health systems, even criminalized for no fault of their own.

What drives me are all the elderly tenants and families with disabilities I’ve represented in Oakland being evicted from their homes– even in the middle of the pandemic.

And what really drives me now is that when I worked alongside statewide tenants’ rights movements to enact a stronger eviction moratorium, when I told some of our supposedly progressive-on-paper lawmakers about the violence that pandemic evictions inflict on their constituents– their answer was a resounding, “that’s sad. But no– we’re not going to try to do anything about it because it’s too hard to fight against special interests”

There is no universe in which I would use that excuse, “it’s just too hard, so I’m not even going to try.” That is because there are no corporate special interest groups whispering in my ear about how they want me to vote. I will fight fiercely for the rights of my constituents, no matter what it takes.

I’d be an especially powerful advocate for the rights of tenants, who have long been denied a seat at the table. If (and when) elected, I would be just one of three tenant lawmakers, in a State Legislature with 120 members. 40%, in fact, are landlords with rental properties.

Tenant protections are of special concern to District 18 as almost 60% of residents are tenants. Thanks to decades of local activism, our District’s largest city, Oakland, has one of the strongest rent control ordinances in the state. However, Oakland’s hands are tied on many state laws that prevent tenants from being meaningfully protected. For example, the state law Costa Hawkins prevents Oakland from being able to expand rent control to units constructed after 1983 and to single-family homes. Having supported tenants facing eviction in Oakland in the course of my legal career–including during the pandemic– I’m acutely aware of the need for stronger statewide tenant protections to support our city. For example, despite Oakland City Council passing a resolution calling upon the State Legislature to repeal the Ellis Act, or at least suspend these evictions during the pandemic, our legislature refused to act. As a tenant advocate who helped launch the coalition that spearheaded Ellis Act legislation, and as a tenant myself, I would bring a tenants rights framework to our legislature to support the needs of Oakland tenants, by repealing Costa Hawkins and the Ellis Act, and implement a “right to counsel” for tenants experiencing evictions. I’d also fight for legislation that helps more low-income tenants be able to embark on a pathway to home ownership.

This is the framework of equity that I vow to bring to every issue that comes before me. Join our movement to stand up against corporate greed, political dynasties, and status quo politics. Join us and help us win at www.jananiforca.com


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