Cal Berkeley Democrats endorses Delaine Eastin for California governor, Kevin de León for US Senate

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Cal Berkeley Democrats announced its endorsement of Delaine Eastin for the 2018 California governor race via Facebook on Tuesday.

In the Facebook post, Cal Dems said it decided to endorse Eastin because her progressive values were similar to its own. The endorsement comes three weeks after Eastin spoke about her campaign at UC Berkeley, after being invited by Cal Dems. Caiden Nason, president of Cal Dems, said Eastin’s views on education, money allotment and the prison system in California, as well as her clarity and straightforwardness, were reasons for Cal Dems’ endorsement.

“We’ve established a culture about what we believe in, and if someone can go in and talk with us about what we think matters, they get our vote,” Nason said.

Jennifer Rindahl, Eastin’s campaign manager, said Eastin is “honored and thrilled” to have received Cal Dems’ endorsement. She added that this endorsement reflects Eastin’s investment in the lives and futures of Californian students.

Eastin’s campaign platforms include free preschool and less-costly higher education, according to Rindahl. She also endorses a universal health care state bill, as well as preparation for climate change weather events. Rindahl said that because of the large income disparities in California, Eastin believes that the state needs more affordable housing and stronger renters’ rights.

“I think that young people, college-level people, should care because this election affects their future,” Rindahl said. “Especially those who want to make California their home after they graduate — they should pay attention to the races.”

Cal Dems’ endorsement of Eastin comes earlier than usual in the election cycle. Nason said California Young Democrats is holding a retreat this weekend, where college democratic groups will be voting on endorsements. He added that this early endorsement will allow Cal Dems to present a united front.

In addition to Eastin, Cal Dems has also endorsed Kevin de León for U.S. Senate.

According to Nason, Cal Dems endorsed de León because it believes he’s the more-progressive candidate running for senate. Nason said that because de León is president pro tempore of the California State Senate, he is leading the most progressive legislature in the country and taking a hands-on approach to student policies.

Roger Salazar, spokesperson for de León’s campaign, said the senator is proud to have Cal Dems’ endorsement for the U.S. senate race and that having the future of the party behind him is a “boost.”

“When (de León) announced he was running for senate, (he) knew that California is different from when Feinstein ran 20 years ago,” Salazar said. “De León has the progressive track record that Californians want to see in Washington.”

Rindahl said she hopes that other young democratic organizations across California are inspired by Cal Dems’ endorsement and join the campaign.

“Delaine gives this metaphor,” Rindahl said. “If I give you 20 pencils (one) at a time, most people can break 20 pencils. However, even the strongest person can’t break 20 pencils all together. We are going to be our 20 pencils all together fighting for California.”

Membership and involvement in Cal Dems has spiked this year, according to Nason, after the results of last year’s election “definitely sort of shook us up.” Nason said Cal Dems is focusing on raising money to travel and build relationships across the state to make an impact.

Nason also said the early endorsement allows for Cal Dems to get more involved in Eastin’s campaign. He added that her campaign will give Cal Dems more freedom to work on political strategies and reach out to voters.

“We didn’t make an endorsement for the presidential race because it was so contentious,” Nason said. “We care more about if a person will represent our interests. We think Delaine would do better.”

Contact Mary Kelly Ford at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @MaryKellyFord1.