An Outsider’s Guide to Running—and Losing—a California Election

Pete Peterson
Executive Director of the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement at Pepperdine’s School of Public Policy

Though Ted White’s classic, The Making of the President, is far better known, the best book I’ve read about what it’s like to run for political office is To Be a Politician by Stimson Bullitt. In the 1950s, Bullitt ran twice as a Democratic Congressional candidate in his home district of Seattle—and lost both times. “Men and women […]

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A Party for Citizens and Customers

Pete Peterson
Executive Director of the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement at Pepperdine’s School of Public Policy

A recent rainy morning in San Carlos, I’m back to doing something I love: training public sector officials (on this day, 25 of them) in how to better engage their residents in policy-making. While losing a statewide political campaign is uniquely painful, I was most gratified to see that a set of policy issues I’ve […]

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A Republican in Santa Monica: Is Top Two an Antidote to “Rational Ignorance”?

Pete Peterson
Executive Director of the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement at Pepperdine’s School of Public Policy

My good friend, Joe Mathews, has thrown a couple gauntlets at my feet (here and here) regarding my support of the Top Two. In one piece, he cites the results of Oregon’s Citizens’ Initiative Review (some form of which I’d like to see here), and in a second, he indicates that Neel Kashkari’s campaign for […]

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SB 1253 and Our Next Secretary of State

Pete Peterson
Executive Director of the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement at Pepperdine’s School of Public Policy

While responses to SB 1253 (“Ballot Initiative Transparency Act”) range from the disappointed to the ecstatic and everywhere in the middle, what can’t be disputed is this: our next Secretary of State is going to be pretty busy for at least the next four years. Along with the multiple challenges currently miring the office – […]

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“For the Privilege of Doing Business in California…”

Pete Peterson
Executive Director of the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement at Pepperdine’s School of Public Policy

It’s one of those phrases that sticks in your head because it uniquely and simply describes a concept whose time has come. A friend who is the Chief Information Officer for a Bay Area municipality recently shared with me his department’s goal: whenever a resident engages with the City – whether it’s to obtain a […]

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On SoS Field Poll: Maybe It’s Not (Just) About Parties

Pete Peterson
Executive Director of the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement at Pepperdine’s School of Public Policy

In my esteemed colleague Joe Mathews’ recent piece in these (web) pages, he offers this reason for my current 13-point lead in the statewide Field Poll on the Secretary of State race: “Those surveys reflect one fact: Peterson is a Republican.” While I would like to think these results are all due to my offering […]

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A (Very) Political Reform

Pete Peterson
Executive Director of the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement at Pepperdine’s School of Public Policy

I missed Republican Assemblyman Jeff Gorell’s Thursday press conference announcing his proposal to make the Secretary of State office a “non-partisan” position, and moving the responsibility for title/summary writing to that office. I was in Soledad that morning training two dozen government officials in how to lead a non-partisan public process. The irony. I met […]

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Are We “Nudging” California Voters to Register No Party Preference?

Pete Peterson
Executive Director of the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement at Pepperdine’s School of Public Policy

The recently announced party registration numbers in California have pundits buzzing about the continuing growth of “No Party Preference” voters alongside the declining memberships in the Democrat and Republican parties. “Indie voters have growing clout in California elections” blares a KPCC headline, and reporter Sharon McNary goes on to list reasons ranging from online registration […]

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California’s 20th-Century “Voting Experience”

Pete Peterson
Executive Director of the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement at Pepperdine’s School of Public Policy

A drive through the office parks of Silicon Valley may fool you into thinking California is a state with its eyes focused firmly on the future. But there’s nothing like a national report from a presidential commission on state election systems to make you feel like you’re living in the Dark Ages. Silicon Valley, meet […]

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Imagine There’s No (Republican) Party…

Pete Peterson
Executive Director of the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement at Pepperdine’s School of Public Policy

With the latest entrant into California’s Secretary of State campaign comes this irony: I’m not the best-known Republican in the race, but I am the only Republican. When I asked Dan Schnur’s advice about my run for Secretary of State last April, he asked me why I was running. My answer was simple: with my […]

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