Who’s Mike Schmier, you ask? Exactly my point.
Schmier, an employee-rights attorney from Emeryville, is a Democratic candidate for state Attorney General, but you’d not know it to listen to most news media, or the California Democratic Party, for that matter.
That’s because while the six other Democratic primary candidates were all allowed to speak at the party’s convention in April in Los Angeles; at a forum in May in Culver City; at a televised debate in May in Santa Monica; in a series of interviews by KPCC public radio in Southern California; and in a California Report segment prepared for Northern California public radio outlets, Schmier was omitted from all of those venues.
The state Democrats in late March said their convention rules say the party’s statewide officers determine who’s viable and eligible to seek the party’s endorsement, and Schmier had too few other endorsements and contributions to qualify. (I still see no endorsements listed on Schmier’s website, and he told me he had raised $12,450 and had $3,166.88 cash on hand as of the last reporting period.) Other entities seemed to follow the party’s lead in ignoring him.
This is his third Democratic primary bid for Attorney General; he ran in 1998 and 2002. He also ran in the 2000 Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, challenging incumbent Dianne Feinstein, and he ran for governor in the great recall circus of 2003.
His platform each time has centered on the cause that he and his brother, attorney Ken Schmier, have made their crusade: Ending the practice of “nonpublication” of court rulings. A unpublished ruling is effective only in the case in which it’s filed and can’t be cited as precedent in other, similar cases; it’s a common practice in California’s appellate courts, but the Schmiers and others contend it erodes courts’ accountability to the people and to the law. Mike Schmier argues that fixing the economy, education, health care, housing, environmental protection and transportation all depends on restoring uniform and equal enforcement of the law.
“Different results arise from similar situations. Predictability, reliability and trust are destroyed, and lives devastated by arbitrary, random opinions,” Mike Schmier says in his official candidate statement. “Our Supreme Court lobbied the Legislature and defeated several bills to return citizens’ rights to cite these opinions, even though the United States Supreme Court restored these rights in federal courts, and most states followed. Your right to free speech is severely limited by this misuse of power.”
Yet Schmier also brings to the table some stances – no prison for minor drug offenders, abolition of the death penalty, reform of the “Three Strikes” sentencing law, legalization of marijuana – that set him apart from the rest of the pack and might’ve made him an interesting figure to have in the debates and forums:
So, there he is. No, he’s not going to win – not in a race where other candidates have far greater name recognition, like San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris and former Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo; or have spent more than $12 million out of their own pocket, like former Facebook chief privacy officer Chris Kelly; or have legislative track records, like Assembly members Alberto Torrico, Ted Lieu and Pedro Nava.
But making believe he doesn’t exist seems arbitrary and exclusionary.