It’s not politics as usual anymore, said Amanda Rentería, who surprised California’s political establishment last week when she filed the necessary paperwork to run for governor in a crowded field three months from the June primary.
The 43-year-old Rentería, who stepped down last Wednesday as chief of operations at the state Department of Justice, believes that politics has changed drastically and that voters are looking for something fresh and new.
“When I see what’s going on in our politics right now, it will take new leaders and new voices to inject hope and trust,” said Retería during a 15-minute phone interview before heading to a San Francisco public television station for another in a series of interviews on the day she released her first campaign statement.
“We want to get policies back in the place they should be,” said Rentería. “Things are broken. I don’t think these are the moments where you don’t say we don’t need new voices and new people.”
Rentería sees a road to victory.
“Anyone who doesn’t believe it is possible to go directly to the voters and talk to them in the timeline we have haven’t been watching what has been going on out there,” said Rentería.
“I believe I need to touch 10 million hearts. Tell their stories,” said Rentería, who ended days of silence after news broke about her candidacy.
The conspiracy theory is incredibly disappointing because there is nothing in my life or career record where I have taken the money to do something like that. The idea that someone is going to try to float that just shows the cynicism about what is wrong with politics.
Gubernatorial candidate Amanda Rentería
Tuesday, she introduced a website – www.amandarenteria.com – and made time for media interviews.
She also quashed speculation – she called those theories “Trump-like conspiracies” – that Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, or his campaign, recruited her to divide the Latino and San Joaquín Valley vote with former Los Ángeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. A Public Policy Institute of California poll released last week shows Villaraigosa closing a large gap against Newsom, with the two Democrats now in a virtual tie.
“The conspiracy theory is incredibly disappointing because there is nothing in my life or career record where I have taken the money to do something like that,” said Rentería. “The idea that someone is going to try to float that just shows the cynicism about what is wrong with politics.”
Voters, she said, will respond to a candidate who is running “for the right reason.”
Rentería said she was drawn into the race during the Jan. 25 gubernatorial debate hosted at UCLA by the Univisión television network.
“It’s been brewing for a while,” said Rentería, who worked as policy adviser for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.
While in Los Ángeles on work, she met Dreamers and “young artists speaking out on politics.” She also participated in a women’s march. Watching the debate, she sat with young voters and said she noticed something.
“What they saw on stage was a couple of people fighting over who used their political power to help themselves,” said Rentería. “All those students I was with saw the same thing I saw.
“I had to step up and make politics about people again,” said Rentería, who was born and grew up in Woodlake. “We have an opportunity about what kind of moral leadership our state is going to have. I have a hard time not being part of that movement.”
A couple of days after the debate, she decided to run for governor.
Rentería said it is time that political campaigns be about the people. “We can put this in the right place. We can make it about people again.”
The timing is right, she said.
“If we don’t get this right – this moment is right for the state and the country – we’ll lose an entire generation of people who will not serve in government again,” she said.
Her plan was to file the paperwork in mid-February and roll out a major announcement on March 1, said Rentería.
“It’s unfortunate that within 24 hours you have longtime consultants and powers-that-be make up a story about why you’re running,” she said. “If anyone would have called me, I would dispelled them pretty quickly.”
Rentería hopes to tap into voters who place value on those who believe in public service.
“This is absolutely a personal, a very personal, decision to make,” she said. “I never believed that elections should be bought.”
Rentería said her website will soon have “a 21st Century Bill of Rights.”
“I feel pretty comfortable that our policy platform will not only be robust but fit,” she said.
The Democratic field in a very blue state is crowded with Newsom, Villaraigosa, state Treasurer John Chiang and former state Superintendent of Schools Delaine Eastin. Republicans include Assemblymember Travis Allen, venture capitalist John Cox and former Congressman Doug Ose.
Experts believe two Democrats will end up in the November general election.
Press release announces her bid
In her press release Tuesday morning, Rentería said it was “time for some fresh faces and perspectives to lead our state.” Amanda Rentería officially launched her bid for governor with a press release at 10 a.m. Tuesday (Feb. 20).
“We can no longer do politics like we’ve done it in the past. We need leaders who can inspire a new generation of public servants, bring new voices to the table, and do it with a sense of joy and optimism,” said Rentería.
“As a long-time public servant working at the local, state, and federal level, I believe we need to change the culture of our politics. Elected office isn’t supposed to be bought, and it’s not supposed to be used for your own gain,” said Rentería, who served as a policy director for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.
“Public service is about celebrating the courage of our fellow citizens, and putting your head down to do the work. It’s not flashy or boastful. It’s about the power of connecting with others and making their stories heard.”
Rentería lost a 2014 Congressional race against Republican David Valadeo in a heavily Latino district.
“I hope that all Californians will join our movement to make politics about people again.”
Reaction from Central Valley Latinos: www.vidaenelvalle.com/news/state/california/fresno/article201073914.html