Is This Republican California's Next Secretary of State?
Pete Peterson has not yet been elected California's secretary of state, but that hasn't stopped him from beginning to try to fix the problems he sees in the office and in California.
On Thursday, Peterson, the GOP candidate who will face off against Democrat Alex Padilla in November, launched a new online platform designed to address the immediate needs of the state's small business owners and entrepreneurs.
"I like to call it an 'idea aggregation and prioritization platform,'" Peterson told Breitbart News on Friday morning. "It promotes online civic engagement, and engages small business owners and entrepreneurs directly. I've been called somewhat of a 'civic engagement geek,'" he said with a laugh.
An "idea aggregation and prioritization platform" sounds confusing, but in reality it is quite simple. The online platform will collect thousands of pieces of feedback from California's small business owners, condensing the group's main issues into easily searchable data. Users will be able to vote "yes" or "no" on each issue, and air out their problems with the secretary of state's office directly.
Peterson said he has about four years of experience working with these online platforms, currently in use in hundreds, if not thousands, of municipalities across the country, although this will be the first time the system is used in a political campaign.
"Government is going to need to use technology beyond social media in order to engage the public," Peterson said.
He believes California's record low voter turnout all comes down to state government's inability to properly engage the electorate.
"Very disappointing," he said, referring to the roughly 18% voter turnout statewide. "I see it primarily as a marketing challenge. If you think about it, advertising agencies use all available channels to get their message out, TV, radio, online ads, guerilla marketing... most government officials don't think of themselves as marketers. I plan to lay out details soon on a voter turnout program."
Peterson is coming off of an impressive showing in Tuesday's California primary; with 29.7% of the vote, he trailed Alex Padilla by just 1.4%, or about 13,000 votes statewide. In California's "jungle" primary system, the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, move on to November's general election.
What makes Peterson's campaign impressive is that he spent just $150,000 on the race; Padilla reportedly spent about $2 million.
"I don't think we'll ever have Alex Padilla money in this race, but it would be nice to maybe have a little more," he said wistfully. "I think this is a unique year. It's an insider versus outsider year, and Alex had to spend a lot of money to overcome that. But I think there's an interesting opportunity if you can make the case that you have a vision for the office."
Peterson has certainly done that with the implementation of his new online platform. Helping small business owners and entrepreneurs in California will be one of the main planks of his campaign in the run-up to November's election. Peterson says it must be, because "this agency has been closed off from the public it's supposed to engage."
Peterson also reserved some criticism for his opponent toward the end of the conversation.
"You know, Alex said that voters in California now have a 'stark contrast' between who to vote for for this office," he said. "I couldn't agree more. I don't think he wants this office, I think he wants the next office. I've pledged not to run for any other office for four years if I'm fortunate enough to be elected secretary of state. This is my dream job, and I've trained hard for it."
When asked what's next for his campaign, Peterson chuckled. "Well, first I think we're gonna take a week off," he said.
Peterson and Padilla will have plenty of time to make their cases in what is expected to be a close, hard-fought race. California's midterm election will be held on November 4.