This article was originally published in Partisan issue no. 21, printed September 2005.
Veteran labor organizer and community activist Jim Smith was the Peace & Freedom Party's candidate in the September 13 special election to fill the vacant seat in the 53rd Assembly District caused by the death of incumbent Mike Gordon.
Democrat Ted Lieu, a Torrance city council member who boasted of having more Republican endorsements than most of the Republicans, won on the first round with nearly 60% of the vote amid Republican disarray. Turnout was less than 18%.
Despite not being elected, Smith made significant gains in his campaign. He got the sole endorsement of Southern California Americans for Democratic Action (ADA). His ballot statement reached thousands of voters who otherwise would have had no chance to learn P&F positions. Press coverage carried his message into communities like Torrance and Redondo Beach where the Peace and Freedom Party seldom reaches.
Smith spent 25 years as a union organizer and is past treasurer of the Venice Neighborhood Council. His platform included taxing the rich and their corporations, a moratorium on development along the coast, single-payer health care, legalizing marijuana, and opposition to the occupation of Iraq.
"A lot of Californians have died," he said. "A lot of tax money is going to military items that should be used for social services. While it's true the legislature can't stop the occupation, I think Californians need to speak out on this."