I met with Damon Dunn, the professional athlete-turned-businessman-turned Republican candidate for Secretary of State, this morning at Tully’s Coffee in downtown Oakland’s Frank Ogawa Plaza — but caffeine is the last thing he needed.
Dunn, 33, is a live wire, a mile-a-minute speaker drawing on his energy as a former NFL player and perhaps on the cadences of his experience as an ordained Baptist minister to explain why he’s the right choice to be California’s chief elections officer despite not only never having held an elected position before, but also never having voted in an election until this May.
In short, he said the election should be just as much about life experience, authenticity and leadership as about one’s history in office and the voting booth.
Dunn said he wants the job in part because his status as a “recovering non-voter” with a “unique posture and demographic” gives him an edge in reaching out to people – especially minorities – and convincing them to register and vote.
He also said the Secretary of State – and all statewide elected officials – should take a more activist role in improving California’s business climate in furtherance of job creation he said. As custodian of corporate records, the Secretary of State is in a particularly effective position to analyze data and make recommendations to the Legislature on tweaking tax and regulatory policy to recruit and retain business. “If you want to get more out of that office … I can do that.”
Faith is a big part of his life and he describes himself as conservative on social issues, but he said he’ll not make hot-button issues such as abortion and gay marriage a part of his campaign. Too many people on both sides of the aisle have done so rather than making strong cases for how they’ll do the jobs they seek, he said.
For now he’s the only Republican who has declared candidacy for this office, but if his refusal to stump on social issues causes problems for him with parts of the GOP’s base and a struggle in the primary election, so be it, Dunn said.
“If people don’t want leadership, if they want ideologues, then that’s OK … but I’m a prinicipled guy,” he said. “I’m going to continue to run a solutions-oriented campaign.”
More after the jump…