Jeff Bleich, former California State University, or CSU, trustee chair and UC Berkeley School of Law graduate, is running for lieutenant governor of California in the upcoming 2018 election.
Bleich said he was inspired to run after the previous election, when former president Barack Obama encouraged people to run for office themselves if they are disappointed with elected officials.
Bleich has served on the CSU board and worked as special counsel for the Obama administration. As an attorney and community advocate, Bleich said he has represented LGBTQ+ people, immigrant communities, victims of gun violence, victims of domestic violence, disabled veterans, fostered youth and homeless youth.
Bleich graduated from Berkeley Law in 1989 and paid his way through — all of $750 per semester — by working over the summer.
“After that, I’ve always wanted to pay it forward and pay it back to the state of California,” Bleich said. “California taxpayers invested in me, and it’s my responsibility to bring it to the next generation.”
Bleich said he is an ideal candidate because he has an interest in both education and environmentalism, which are both key pieces of the lieutenant governor position. This is because the lieutenant governor must sit on the UC Board of Regents, CSU Board of Trustees, Ocean Protection Council, California Emergency Council and State Lands Commission.
According to Bleich, the current administration focuses on how to mitigate climate change, which he said is a critical effort. Bleich added that he thinks that it is important to adapt infrastructure to the climate that we currently have, including through water conservation efforts.
Among Bleich’s competition is Cameron Gharabiklou, an attorney and small business owner in San Diego. Gharabiklou said he was disappointed with the “muted tone” of candidates who have already entered the race.
Republican candidate for lieutenant governor Cole Harris emphasized in a statement that unlike Bleich, he was born and raised in California. According to Harris, his business knowledge will make him an effective lieutenant governor. Harris said he plans to bring together the best minds from both the private sector and state government, regardless of party, to fix the problems facing California today.
Bleich has been endorsed by the San Francisco Chronicle and the Sierra Club, with the latter citing “skills, experience, and vision” as some of Bleich’s assets as a candidate.
“You need someone who is below the radar but working very hard. I am running because I want to do this job. A lot of people are running because they want to be something,” Bleich said. “I am running because I want to do something.”