Californians deserve a real debate – Press Telegram

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On Sunday afternoon, when no one was watching, a debate took place between Governor Gavin Newsom and State Senator Brian Dahl. This will be the only debate between two candidates for governor of the largest state in the country and one of the most powerful states in the world. That’s what you get with one-party rule and a political culture that doesn’t value the exchange of ideas.

California has big things at stake, both because of its size and because of its many challenges. Nevertheless, almost everyone knows the almost certain result of the state-wide competition.

With nearly half of registered voters being Democrats, most of whom will vote along party lines no matter what, as are most registered Republicans, and most independents leaning Democratic, it’s incredibly difficult for non-Democrats to win.

In that context, it’s understandable why Newsom wants only one debate, and why other Democratic candidates for public office are similarly dismissive of calls for debate. For all their talk about the importance of democracy, which requires robust civil debate, it turns out that they just want power. That’s all.

Consider, for example, the case of Malia Cohen, the Democratic candidate for state comptroller. The position of comptroller can and should serve as an important watchdog for state government. Incumbent Betty Yee, a Democrat, has failed miserably in stopping efforts to release detailed government spending.

Cohen, a Democrat, is Yee’s likely successor, but all she wants to talk about is abortion, in which the state comptroller doesn’t play a significant role. It’s like having a city official candidate run on a platform of NATO expansion.

This is gibberish.

It would be one thing if Cohen were running for a relevant position, such as the legislature, in a state with strict abortion restrictions, such as Texas. But she is not. She is running for comptroller in a state where abortion is legal and constitutionally protected both by law and by California Supreme Court rulings predating Roe v. Wade.

Her opponent, Lanhi Chen, has attracted broad bipartisan support because he is effectively focused on the duties of the comptroller’s office. Chen clearly understands the office’s powers and ability to truly hold the government accountable through audit and transparency.

Chen repeatedly called for a debate with Cohen, which Cohen repeatedly ignored or dismissed. Cohen is clearly troubled by reports this month that her consulting firm’s license was suspended just last year for “failure to file” and “failure to pay” taxes.

“I can’t explain what happened there because I don’t remember,” she told the Los Angeles Times.

A Malia Cohen victory would be evidence of self-destructive partisanship. A Chen victory would be a sign that Californians can and will overcome partisanship.

Unfortunately, Cohen does her part to minimize public exposure of the contrasts between herself and her opponent, avoiding debate. We hope that her efforts are not successful.

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