Word for word from the letter....
Upon receiving news of my departure from the Jill Martinez 2006 effort, a number of you have emailed, called, or stopped by. I write these words in an attempt to redirect the focus of those presently distracted by curiosity, concern, and confusion.
Prior to making a formal commitment to the campaign, I surveyed persons with direct knowledge of all the candidates, researched how the 24th Congressional District voted in the 2004 Presidential and 2005 Special Election, and questioned Jill Martinez about her background and public policy views. In exchange for my commitment to forgo all other employment opportunities and accept the role as Campaign Director, she committed to raising the funds necessary for me to hire personnel, purchase resources, and receive the sum total of the wages and reimbursements a fulltime campaign manager working on a federal race in California receives.
None of this has changed; those commitments all hold--what is different now is the landscape. The citizens and residents of Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties held a good-faith expectation that by the close of the filing period, each and every potential candidate for elected office would appear before the public, and through their actions, make their unwavering intentions known:
Jill Martinez, Presbyterian minister, Democrat, fulfilled this good-faith expectation.
Michael Tenenbaum, trial lawyer, Republican, fulfilled this good-faith expectation.
Elton Gallegly, 20-year incumbent, Republican, flip-flopped and decided not to run.
It was unforeseen, historic, and shocking, but a matter of indisputable fact, that at 5 pm, on Friday, March 10, 2006, Jill Martinez became the Democratic Party Nominee for California's 24th District seat in the House of Representatives--her general election campaign began at 5:01.
Before the close of the filing period, Tenenbaum held a press conference at the Ventura County Government Center and launched a campaign challenge against Gallegly from the extreme political right. Unbeknownst to Tenenbaum, and the vast majority of voters, Gallegly withdrew from his commitment to seek an 11th term in Congress. This "shot heard round the world" on Friday, March 10, 2006 in the late afternoon, prompted panicked last-minute attempts to add names to the Republican Primary ballot, threats of legal challenges to the names appearing on the Republican Primary ballot, and the creation of a half dozen "write-in" campaign exploratory committees.
Consequently, Gallegly flip-flopped again and decided to run after all.
Between this moment and June 6, 2006, registered Republicans in the 24th Congressional District will have to sort through this chaos. As of right now, everything about the Republican Primary is fodder for stand-up routines, satirical broadcasts, and ongoing coverage by Jon Stewart's Daily Show.
Disarray on the other side notwithstanding, I have spent every moment since 5:01 pm, Friday, March 10, 2006, preparing for Jill Martinez's transition from Democratic candidate in what was expected to be a contested Primary, Democratic Party Nominee for California's 24th District seat in the House of Representatives.
I am relatively young, not exceptionally well-known in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties, and possess limited professional experience with endeavors of this scale. It would be less-than-ideal for me to continue to serve as Campaign Director now that the general election has begun. No part of the Jill Martinez 2006 effort can be about learning curves or résumé padding anymore. To say that lives and livelihoods are at stake is no exaggeration. Because I have mourned the passing of several friends, beginning with the loss of classmate Juan Cisneros on 09/11/01, I will never place personal interest above the wellbeing of the residents and citizens of the United States of America.
John F. Kennedy said, "Those who look only to the past, or the present, are certain to miss the future." The future of this District, this country, and this world are at stake in this election--this is not hyperbole. Because of this I prefer at present to work for positive change without any title--one piece of a mosaic coalition of Democrats and Republicans; independents, and the members of other political parties; progressives, moderates, and conservatives. Because of this I am calling upon all who read this to make amends with the past:
Although no factual evidence exists to prove the claim, public perception is that I am in part responsible for Mary Pallant's decision not to file the paperwork necessary for her name to appear on the Democratic Primary ballot. To Mary Pallant and her supporters I say: Please accept my surrender of the Campaign Director title as the greatest of any actions anyone can offer in order to broker peace, forgiveness, and reconciliation.
Team Pallant offered effective stump speeches and firm handshakes. But more importantly, Mary spoke with unrivaled conviction against this White House and this Congressional majority's specific failings in Iraq. Numerous Republicans and Democrats came to support her. They look to her now to answer the call to serve a greater cause. Fences can be mended. Hatchets can be buried. Bad blood can be dealt with. But if a voice of change does not emerge victorious, we will face an incumbent again in 2008.
To be clear, ample factual evidence exists to prove Brett Wagner's claims. In October 2005, he received a letter signed by two-dozen prominent Democrats directing him to not pursue another campaign for his District's Congressional seat. Days later, a full press conference was held by several letter-signers. Then, the California Democratic Party's Region 10 director launched an unofficial investigation, and concluded that the matter should have been kept private, and local party members should have simply exercised the right to not endorse Wagner as a candidate. The chair of the Assembly District 37 Committee dismissed the investigation's findings as "incomplete, one-sided, and unprofessional," and would not let the matter be resolved. 2005 ended and 2006 began with an unnecessary cloud hanging over the heads of Democrats throughout the District.
Not all Democrats signed the letter or called the press conference. In fact, at least one person asked for their signature to be removed from the public record. But all of us must now come to terms with these events. In order to broker peace, forgiveness, and reconciliation, I plainly ask each and every one of you who signed the letter to remove your John Hancock from the public record. And I strongly urge all those associated with the press conference to take the honorable, dignified, and redeeming action of refusing any paid, titled, or advisory role in the Jill Martinez 2006 effort.
On February 22, 2006, Jill Martinez and I introduced a "Clean Campaign Pledge for the Democratic Primary" that states:
A significant component of the American promise is the equal opportunity to seek public office regardless of socioeconomic class and racial or ethnic, cultural, religious, gender, or sexual identity--everyone has a right to run and no one other than the candidate him or herself decides whether to continue or step down.
If Elton Gallegly cannot have his cake and eat it too; if he is neither entitled to a seat in the House, nor empowered to handpick the Representative for CA - 24; if gerrymandering or no gerrymandering, safe Red District or no safe Red District, this is still a one person, one vote democracy. And if Gallegly's flash-in-the-pan exit/entry strategy of "it's too early to tell regarding my medical condition," and accompanying phenomenon of in-one-minute, out-the-next is divisive, dishonest, and disreputable.
Then there can be no public perception of king-making, unethical practices, or backroom deals in, near, or around Jill Martinez during the course of this campaign. All human beings are finite, fallen, and fallible. Jill is no exception. But her greatest strength is an integrity stemming from an unapologetic faith, and a passion for public service rooted in a lifetime of working to solve the everyday problems of everyday people. This above all else, explains why I chose to forgo all other opportunities until June, and said yes to Jill. All those who are truly interested in the well-being of the candidate and the campaign must now understand that only they can taint Jill's integrity and cheapen her passion--they must unquestionably accept this conclusion and take appropriate action.
It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance. ~ Robert F. Kennedy
Phonebanks, precinct walks, absentee ballot and get-out-the-vote drives will soon begin.
And I will see you there.
Best of the best to you and yours on this day and always,
-- Unai --