Good-government activist to run for sec’y of state

A veteran good-government activist declared his candidacy for California secretary of state today in Sacramento.

Derek Cressman, a Democrat, said he’s seeking the office “to make elections count for Californians. “We need real leadership to limit the role corporations and big-moneyed special interests play in our elections.”

Derek CressmanCressman, 45, of Sacramento, has worked for the past 18 years with nonpartisan groups including Common Cause and the Public Interest Research Group. He said his priorities as secretary of state – a position which, among other things, is the state’s top elections officer – would include challenging the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling that has opened the floodgates to unprecedented political spending.

He said he also would seek to modernize California’s voter registration and small business registration systems to reduce bureaucratic barriers to voting and enterprise, and upgrade the state’s voter guide to offer Californians better information on candidates and ballot measures.

“Derek’s not just another career politician looking to move up one rung on the ladder,” Michael Keegan, president of People For the American Way, said in Cressman’s news release. “He is not indebted to special interests and will fight tirelessly for fair and transparent elections.”

Cressman’s campaign will be run by San Francisco-based 50+1 Strategies, led by Nicole Derse and Addisu Demissie; consultant Parke Skelton of Los Angeles will serve as a senior advisor to what Derse says will be “a truly grassroots campaign across California, engaging voters in their communities and online about their vision for our democracy and our state.”

Secretary of State Debra Bowen is term-limited out of office at the end of 2014. Next year will be the first time that this and other statewide offices are subject to the new “top-two” primary system, in which candidates of all parties compete directly for primary votes and then only the top two vote-getters advance to November’s general election, regardless of their party affiliation.

Other Democrats who’ve filed statements of intention to seek the office next year include former state Sen. Elaine Alquist of Santa Clara; former Assemblyman Charles Calderon of Montebello; former Assemblyman Mike Davis of Los Angeles; voting transparency and accountability activist Alan Jay Dechert of Granite Bay; 2012 Assembly candidate Mervin Evans of Los Angeles; state Sen. Cathleen Galgiani, D-Stockton; state Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Van Nuys; and state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco.

Also in the race are Republican Pete Peterson, executive director of Pepperdine University’s Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership, and Green Party candidate David Curtis, an architect and activist from San Rafael.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • RR senile columnist

    Cressman is a Naderite prog who wants to make it easier for leftists to win office.
    The rest of his opinions don’t matter.

  • JohnW


    What is it that Cressman advocates that would make it easier for leftists to win office?

  • Elwood

    Good luck to the good government candidate.

    If history is any yardstick, he’ll need it.

  • RR Senile Columnist

    Bro John: When public-spirited activists speak of “corporate ” and “special interest” cash influencing elections, they mean excluding people like themselves from influencing elections. Naturally, a majority of well-informed voters would agree with stands taken by the Left.

  • JAFO

    “Derek’s not just another career politician looking to move up one rung on the ladder.” Yawn. Wouldn’t you just love to have a buck for every time somebody cranked out that hackneyed press release bromide? Why does it have that hollow “hope and change” ring to it? How’s that working out for all of BO’s idolators?

  • GV Haste

    I say Leland Yee wins the office on his charisma.

  • JohnW


    JAFO, whenever somebody asks, “How’s the hope and change thing working?” it’s fairly easy for me to overcome my disappointment that BO can’t actually walk on water. All I have to do is visualize Sarah Palin a heartbeat away from the Oval Office, occupied by a now nearly 77 year old John McCain.

    I’m with BO about 60-70%, compared to about 10% for the other team. So, all things considered, no regrets and no thoughts of “I miss Bush.”

  • Elwood

    At least Sarah is an upfront idiot, not one whose idiocy is carefully concealed by Harvard Law, a teleprompter and being carried around in a basket his whole life.

  • RR senile columnist

    JAFO: you’re right. A career pol is a guy who actually gets people to vote for him. A career activist is somebody afraid to face the people who might not agree with his views.

  • RR senile columnist

    Elwood, Sarah isn’t stupid. She is just American.

  • MichaelB


    But what can he do? Or what’s he done?

    I guess there just are not enough people unemployed/have given up looking for jobs, the government just does not spend enough, there are not enough people on food stamps, the national debt isn’t big enough, there are not enough “green job” subsidies, the nation has not been “fundamentally transformed” yet, the Constitution hasn’t addressed income redistribution for “fairness” reasons yet, etc.

    It’s fairly easy for you to overcome the poor record of BO in office. Does this guy ever have to deliver ANY results whatsoever? Or is everything “inherited” or conveniently the “fault” of Bush and the Republicans for not going along with more of what he wants that hasn’t worked? Exactly what makes BO the best guy to handle the issues the nation faces right now? He convinced enough people that Romney was “rich” and was going to “take away” government benefits/entitlements?

    McCain wasn’t the best candidate but at least he believes in what this nation stands for/knows how the economy works vs. someone trying to create a centrally planned utopian welfare state (for “fairness” reasons) that doesn’t exist.

  • JohnW

    #8 & 10

    I made no comment as to Mama Grizzly’s intelligence. As they say at Harvard Law, Res ipsa loquitur.

    Monday night, POTUS did an hour-long interview with Charlie Rose on topics ranging from Syria to NSA to the Fed. Today, he held a joint press conference with the Chancellor of Germany. No teleprompters, and no pre-selected questions from the press corps. I’m sure Sarah would have made quite an impression in either of those venues.

  • JAFO


    Charlie Rose? Now, there’s a tough questioner. I believe cut his journalistic teeth working for “My Weekly Reader.” Oh dear, I fear I’ve given a hint as to how long I’ve been stirring up things.

  • Elwood

    Whatever happened to My Weekly Reader?

    I guess my subscription ran out.

  • JohnW


    Rose has solid credentials as a journalist. His PBS show is not designed to be about confrontation and gotchas or injecting his own views into the discussion. His interviews are conversational. He asks good questions and lets the guest speak. He interrupts only to draw the person out or to clarify the answers. But Rose doesn’t let them off the hook if they don’t answer the questions or if they give answers that have obvious flaws.

    If your idea of a good interview is a pissing contest, in which the interviewer tries to show how smart he is and outwit the person being interviewed, I’ve got a couple of cable “news” networks I can recommend.

    Rose asked important questions about NSA, the new Chinese leader and the U.S./China relationship, the U.S foreign policy pivot to Asia, the new president in Iran, Bernanke, the complexities of Syria etc. You can watch the show online and judge for yourself. Anyone who bothered to actually watch would have come away better informed.

  • JAFO


    As a trained and experienced journalist/editor yourself, you know even better than I that you usually illicit far more information, certainly far more hard news, from more probing interviews than warm and fuzzy, conversational chit-chats. You also know that it’s simplistic to characterize more probing interviews as “pissing contests” engaged in only by those seeking to outwit or outsmart their quarry, no matter which cable network broadcasts them.

  • JAFO

    I meant “elicit” rather than “illicit.” I could have used your editing skills, JohnW.

  • JohnW


    Just to be clear, I’m not a journalist/editor.

    Not sure whom you are thinking about as examples of people who conduct good, probing interviews.

    One thing to keep in mind about Charlie Rose is that his show is not primarily about politics. His guests include people from sports, performing arts, science, medicine, and just about every other walk of life. He did a whole series of shows just about the human brain. Verbal jiu-jitsu is not his thing. But, in his own style, he does plenty of probing and eliciting. In my opinion, he is the best in the business.