Eleni Kounalakis, candidate for California Lt Governor, is not the progressive she claims to be.

Eleni Kounalakis
Eleni Kounalakis at a joint training session of Hungarian troops and the Ohio National Guard

And someone wants to make sure we know it

Multi-millionaire real estate developer Elenis Kounalakis  has a long history of supporting corporate Democrats, including right wingers such as Congressmember Ami Bera.  She fundraised heavily for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, to the point of buying herself an ambassadorship to Hungary.  She moved on to be part of Hillary Clinton’s inner circle and an ally of David Brock and George Soros.  As she runs for California Lieutenant Governor, however, she has tried to market herself as a progressive, claiming she supports single payer healthcare and a lot of other causes dear to Berniecrats’ hearts.

Apparently, it’s all for show.  In a 2016 interview with Politico, Kounalakis called Bernie Sanders policies – things like single payer healthcare, tuition-free public colleges, strong environmental regulations and banning fracking, stopping the TPP and re-regulating Wall Street – “pie in the sky and impractical” while describing Bernie as a “fringe candidate”  who “is simply too radical and his ideas are just fiction.”

While it is possible that Kounalakis had a changed of heart, there is no indication that this has been the case.  Beyond claiming these “pie in the sky and impractical” ideas for herself, she seems to have done nothing to advance them, either by lobbying for them at the Legislature or by supporting progressive candidates that will actually champion them.

There is a good Berniecrat running for Lieutenant Governor in California, Gayle McLaughlin.  A current City Council member and former Mayor of Richmond, California, McLaughlin has a record of fighting big corporations, including Chevron, leading people-powered campaigns, instituting police reforms and passing rent control.  McLaughlin was endorsed by Bernie Sanders himself in past races, recognized by Bernie in his book “Our Revolution“,  and has been endorsed by numerous Our Revolution chapters in this race.  However, a former Green who became an NPP to vote for Sanders, McLaughlin is running for Lt Governor as a “no party preference” candidate.  This means that she is not eligible for the Democratic Party endorsement and that delegates to the  California Democratic Party Central Committee, cannot publicly support her or avow a preference for her.  I am thus doing neither.

Eleni Kounalakis’ quotes in the Politico article came to my attention through an anonymous e-mail from a throwaway account.  Given the timing – less than two months before the California Democratic Party’s convention, when delegates like I will vote on which candidates to endorse -, it seems likely that this e-mail came from one of her two Democratic rivals, State Senator Ed Hernandez or former Ambassador to Australia Jeff Bleich.

Ultimately, none of the Democratic candidates in the Lieutenant Governor’s race holds a progressive vision and none of them would do much to champion social justice and human rights.  Therefore, I recommend that my fellow delegates vote “no endorsement” on this race.  I will do that myself.

***

These are quotes from Kounalakis from the January 2016 Politico article.

“Bernie Sanders is a fringe candidate,” said Eleni Kounalakis, a major Clinton donor who served as ambassador to Hungary during Clinton’s time as Secretary of State.

“Not just because he is advocating for policies that arepie in the sky and impractical, but also because he has no proven ability to advance these fringe strategies. He’s been in Congress for decades and hasn’t been able to advance any of his fairly radical ideas.”

Kounalakis, who hosted Clinton at her San Francisco home for a $2,700-a-head fundraiser last November, said that “Sanders could very well come out of Iowa and New Hampshire looking like a viable candidate. But in terms of leading the country? He’s simply too radical and his ideas are just fiction.”

Just for fun, these are the quotes she gave to the same Politico writer about John Biden, when she feared Biden might run against Hillary instead.

FOR ATTRIBUTION:

“I’m very angry that it’s so difficult to defend her against lies. I’m worried we’re not accustomed  to having a woman candidate at this level, and we don’t have the language to fight sexist  attacks.”

“I’m concerned that the first bumpy road she hits — and there’s a man ready to knock her out.  I’ve seen this before.”

NOT FOR ATTRIBUTION, BUT YOU CAN USE AS “ONE SUPPORTER”

(Some concern that “if Clinton loses New Hampshire and Iowa, Biden could get in.”) NOT FOR ATTRIBUTION.

(“Colbert appearance looked staged. He’s launching a Presidential campaign out of grief? That doesn’t make any sense to me. I think he’s being opportunistic.”) NOT FOR ATTRIBUTION