Exclusive Interview: Alison Hartson Speaks On Her Senate Campaign
Today voters throughout California are exercising their constitutional rights by participating in primary elections. Dianne Feinstein has been a member of the United States Senate since 1992 and is wildly expected to move on to the general election.
California has what is called a ‘jungle primary’ which allows the top two vote recipients the opportunity to advance to the general, regardless of their political affiliation — allowing for progressive Democrats the opportunity to face a Third Way Democrat in a general election.
Former educator and National Director of Wolf-Pac, Alison Hartson is a candidate in the primary and has cultivated a strong presence on social media. Her grassroots campaign has the backing of Justice Democrats, Demand Universal Healthcare, #ProgressivesUnite, Digital Left, and several local Our Revolution branches.
Passionate progressive firebrand Cenk Uygur, the founder of The Young Turks (TYT) serves as an unofficial advisor to the Hartson campaign. Throughout the primary cycle, TYT was one of few outlets to provide in-depth coverage of the Hartson campaign.
“It’s hard to say frustrating; I almost find it comical,” Alison candidly stated when asked if the coverage of her campaign from establishment media was frustrating. “I’ve been facing this kind of shutout by the establishment for years now from working with Wolf-Pac,” she continued.
“It’s definitely offensive to the democratic process, but it’s also why I’m running,” Alison explained that she came into the process prepared for a media blackout, and was encouraged that the majority of polls which included her name showed her at a statistical tie for second place.
“It’s not that they don’t know me, they don’t take our social media, independent media, and grassroots movement seriously,” she responded when asked about the lack of coverage from reporters in California. “…There is a media bias were they think the only way you can be taken seriously if you are already on the inside [of government] and bringing in hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars. The fact they stop short there and don’t think about what that means for democracy ‘That’ pisses me off,” Alison continued.
Hartson went on to explain that the influence media bias has on democracy is what fuels her to continue fighting in her campaign. “I do,” Hartson responded when asked if she felt former President Obama’s endorsement for Senator Feinstein was directly related to her campaign.
“…[State Senator] Kevin de León is Dianne Feinstein light, he’s their [establishment] backup plan…He’s been taking corporate and PAC [Political Action Committee] money his entire career and does whatever the Democratic Party asks of him, he’s never stood up to the Democratic Party,” she went on to say during the interview.
“The only other person showing a groundswell momentum that Bernie Sanders had, is me. I have over 1,900 volunteers; nobody has that. I have the small-dollar donors; 72% small-dollar donors, which translates to more people donating to my campaign than anybody else…I have 6 to 8 times the social media engagement of every single candidate; every single week…So there’s no way they aren’t [the establishment of the Democratic National Committee] talking about how they can’t underestimate this movement like they underestimated Bernie.”
Hartson also went on to state that she was flattered that President Obama endorsed Feinstein, his only public endorsement during the primary season. When asked if she were worried about the amount of money the Feinstein campaign would spend against Hartson in a general election; Alison answered confidently, “…I move on to the general, and we are going to obliterate Dianne Feinstein, and I know it.”
“…The media will not be able to ignore me; they will not be able to ignore our movement,” Alison continued. She went on to describe that the fighting her campaign has had to do to move forward, despite numerous obstacles would become a huge national story.
“…When they hear our message, people have been voting for Dianne Feinstein for decades — we’re changing their minds within 30 seconds while talking to them at their door, our data is showing,” she went on to explain. Hartson also went into detail concerning how her campaign would then benefit from television coverage and by grassroots donations coming in from around the nation.
“…She is known for saying what she needs to say during campaigns, that is also something not talked about enough by the media,” Hartson stated when asked about Feinstein releasing statements concerning the marijuana legalization and changing her position on the death penalty during the primary.
Alison went on to describe when Feinstein had the Confederate flag flown while she was the Mayor of San Francisco and vying to become the Vice President nominee. Hartson also detailed an example of a deceptive Feinstein ad where she states her support of universal healthcare when the ad falls short of supporting the legislation, instead stating support for Affordable Care Act, which is not a version of universal health coverage.
“When it comes to marijuana, she didn’t really flip her position, but she made it sound like she did,” Hartson commented on Feinstein’s statement concerning marijuana during the primary. The change occurred soon after the Hartson campaign released an ad critiquing Feinstein’s position on cannabis.
Alison originally thought Feinstein did a complete flip-flop on the issue, “…What she really did if you listen carefully is [sic], she said that she supports the states rights to legalize marijuana if they want to — without the federal government overturning it, that is not the same as legalizing it — like people are fighting for,” Hartson explained her findings after researching Senator Feinstein’s remarks.
“The death penalty itself…that one is an easy one, what corporate donors is she going to piss off by switching her stance on the death penalty,” Hartson continued when addressing Feinstein’s change on the death penalty. Alison also went on to say that she believes Senator Feinstein not taking any positions that would upset her corporate donors is a purposeful strategy.
“Every time it’s said out loud it makes my stomach turn,” Alison explained when asked about the Trump administration backing out of the Iran nuclear deal. “I feel the Iran deal was one of the best things that came out of the Obama administration,” she continued.
Alison went on to explain her doubts over the effectiveness of President Trump’s negotiation tactics with North Korea, due to his administration’s actions concerning the Iran deal, along with a lack of international trust in our nuclear negotiations going back to the overthrow of the Gaddafi regime in Libya.
Hartson ended the conversation by stating how she feels the process has been rewarding to run for office without being a millionaire, even though her campaign has worked 16-20 hours every day of the week. “Would be nice to not have to live under parents roof to not feel like a college student,” she joked when speaking about her experience while running.
Dianne Feinstein’s campaign could not be reached for comment.