I participated in an on-line press conference the night before the California primary with Judge James P. Gray, also known as Judge Jim Gray, Orange County Superior Court Justice. He was about to face frequent candidate Gail Lightfoot of Oakland to become the Libertarian Party challenger for incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer's seat, a position he won last night.
The California Senatorial race has been eclipsed in the media by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's pitch for his two ballot initiatives (which also passed last night). I felt it was important to get information out about lesser-publicized candidates who choose to run in alternative parties. We just don't hear enough about them in the mainstream press.
Judge Gray, a colorful public figure, has written a book addressing the most controversial elements of "the drug war". In their review of the book, Publishers Weekly has said :
"Following his career as a federal prosecutor and a trial judge, Gray, now a California Superior Court justice, is struck by the revelation that the so-called war on drugs was "wasting unimaginable amounts of our tax dollars, increasing crime and despair and severely and unnecessarily harming people's lives... the worst of all worlds."Judge Gray ran as a Republican in the California Primary Election against Bob Dornan in 1998, and he says he has the scars to prove it.
During our interview (facilitated by Kevin Connors of the SSDB blog), Judge Gray asserted that Republicans only talk about reduced government and Libertarians would actually do it, causing everyone to be better off. He gave an example, for those who believe in low cost housing, that a full 30% of the cost of a new house is consumed in attempting to comply with government regulations. Judge Gray said, "Get rid of the bureaucracy, and the costs come down."
Judge Gray was asked if he would eliminate federal housing subsidies. "Subsidies actually hurt even the people who receive them in the long run," Judge Gray said. "They do nothing for anyone else. And, by the way, they are expensive."
Here are questions I asked of Judge Gray:
Jude Nagurney Camwell: Judge Gray, you've been quoted as saying, "If you're going to wait for any real change to come from the Democrats or Republicans in the next 20 years, you're dreaming." Many Americans want change and are tired of dreaming. We witnessed the recent groundswell of citizens desiring change in California with the recall of Governer Davis. My question to you would be--how do you believe you can motivate Californians to come out to the polls on your behalf? How will you convince them you're the best catalyst for change?
Judge Gray: Good question. I have a record as a judge for the past 20 years in not only working for justice, but also designing and implementing programs that work. In addition, having written a book about the failure and hopelessness of the war on drugs that was endorsed by people like Walter Cronkite, George Shultz and Milton Friedman, I believe I bring a credible and viable alternative to professional politicians, with all of their "spin" and ugly partisanship. People are anxious for a positive choice, and I will give it to them. But I need people who understand what we are doing to take it to heart, and get involved actively.
Jude Nagurney Camwell: As in many states, California has lost a number of jobs to the business-practice of outsourcing. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman recently made the comment: "It's bad economics to pretend that free trade is good for everyone, all the time." The momentum of globalization is bound to produce losers as well as winners. If the job gap doesn't start closing soon, protectionist pressures will surely come. What are some of your ideas on how to handle this issue?
Judge Gray: Another good and timely question. Unfortunately, artificialities in the market place simply do not work. I believe that the U.S. can compete favorably on a level playing field with anyone. Put it this way. What if California were concerned (as it should be) with the loss of jobs to Nevada. Should we put a tariff upon goods manufacturing in Nevada? One way or the other, each side would lose. Same with regard NAFTA. In addition, many countries are losing these low-paying jobs. Even Mexico is losing them. So what all of should do is accent the things that work, which are reduced government meddling in the market place, and leave more money in the pockets of the people.
You can listen to more about Judge Gray's views as he approached the time of the California primary at E-The-People.