Pat Harris Tells OC Democrats Tonight Why He’s Better Than Dianne Feinstein

Pat Harris is a Democrat running for the U.S. Senate seat of Dianne Feinstein (D-California). Photo courtesy of Pat Harris for Senate

A Democrat gunning for the U.S. Senate seat held by a leader of his own party speaks in Laguna Niguel Monday night.

Pat Harris, an author, criminal defense and civil rights attorney and one of six Democrats challenging Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California), is scheduled to pull his “eco” bus up to Faith Episcopal Church, 27801 El Lazo, Laguna Niguel, and then speak to the Aliso/Niguel Democratic Club between 6:30 and 8:15 p.m.

For his campaign, Harris purchased a bus that has been recycled and designed to be environmentally friendly. It’s been taking him up and down the state since the start of the year.

Feinstein revealed in October she will seek her fifth six-year term. At 84, she is the oldest member of the Senate.

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California). Official U.S. Senate photo

“The question I am most frequently asked is why am I choosing to run against Senator Dianne Feinstein,” writes Harris on his campaign website. “First and foremost, I disagree with Senator Feinstein about her current approach to governing. She has said repeatedly that she believes in working across the aisle and in trying to compromise with Republicans.

“While I believe that is an admirable goal it is no longer based in reality. For the past eight years, the Republican Party has refused to work with the Democrats on any major proposal the Democrats have put forth. In fact, the Republican Party made it their declared mission to unanimously oppose any measure the Obama administration proposed. To suggest that the best approach is to continue to try and work with them is, I believe, foolhardy.”

Harris also disagrees with Feinstein’s reported statement about not needing “rabble-rousers on Capitol Hill” and that “we should be patient with Donald Trump and that he could still be a good president.”

“I respectfully disagree,” Harris counters. “We need rabble-rousers. We need people who are not afraid to stand up to this administration. We need people who are not afraid to stand up to the large Wall Street corporations that are running this government instead of taking their political donations.”

He goes on to demonstrate his philosophical differences with Feinstein on: single payer health care (he’s for and says she’s against); corporate donations (he claims not to be taking any while the incumbent has throughout her political career); defense spending (he wants to cut waste and divert some funds to medical research or science and technology and accuses the senator of being one of the biggest proponents of large yearly defense budget increases); and cannabis legalization (he says he’s always been for it while she has opposed it). 

Eugene Patterson Harris grew up in Arkansas, became a Fulbright Scholar and a Rhodes Scholar state finalist while at the University of Arkansas and worked as a legislative aide in Washington, D.C., to Rep. Bill Alexander (D-Arkansas). Harris went on to drive a taxi and work for a real estate developer and the Texas Rangers baseball team on the way to getting his Juris Doctorate from the University of Michigan Law School.

His first job as a lawyer was with the Davidson County, Tennessee, Public Defender’s Office in Nashville, where he stayed for two years before joining the legendary Los Angeles criminal defense firm Geragos & Geragos in 1996. Harris co-authored Susan McDougal’s autobiography, Susan McDougal: The Woman Who Wouldn’t Talk, and, with Mark Geragos, Mistrial: An Inside Look at How the Criminal Justice System Works … and Sometimes Doesn’t.

You can learn more about Harris’ campaign at www.patharrisforsenate.com, but it’s not likely to lay out the uphill fight he is facing. As of the end of 2017, Feinstein had raised more than $13 million and had $9.8 million in cash on hand, according to OpenSecrets.org. Harris had raised $302,719 and had $56,729. Two other Democrats seeking Feinstein’s seat ended 2017 with more in the bank: Kevin de León, the current president pro tem of the State Senate, with $359,261 and Alison Hartson, the national director of Wolf PAC, which is seeking public financing of elections and the end of corporate personhood, had $164,130.

In a poll conducted Jan. 1-10 by SurveyUSA for KABC-TV Los Angeles, KPIX-TV San Francisco, KGTV-TV San Diego, KFSN-TV Fresno and the Southern California News Group, Feinstein was the choice of 34 percent of the voters in the June primary, where under the state’s open ballot the top two vote-getters from any party square off in the November general election. Next in the poll came Republican challengers Timothy Charles Kalemkarian with 6 percent and Caren Lancona, Patrick Little and Stephen Schrade each at 5 percent. They were followed by de León with 4 percent and Hartson with 3 percent. Harris only got 1 percent of the vote.

Feinstein even dominated when SurveyUSA added progressive sugar daddy Tom Steyer, who has not expressed an interest in the U.S. Senate seat but has toyed with running for governor. Under that scenario, Feinstein still got 29 percent of the vote to Steyer’s 5 percent. It also dropped Kalemkarian to 5 percent, where Lancona and Little remained steady. Meanwhile, with the billionaire Democrat in the race, de León fell to 3 percent, Hartson dropped to 2 percent and Harris rose to 2 percent.

Keep hope alive, busboy.

Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.

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