David Levitt is a MIT trained computer scientist with a track record of innovation including designing an I-Pad ‘app’ that was a top seller last year.
David Levitt is also a candidate for the U.S. Senate seat in California currently held by veteran Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein.
Classic ‘conventional wisdom’ in politics gives candidates like Levitt little chance to unseat a well-resourced incumbent like Feinstein –the fifth wealthiest member of the U.S. Senate.
But there is a history making political breeze blowing in Levitt’s favor and that breeze could help Levitt become the fifth Africa-American to serve in America’s most powerful elected body since the beginning of the 20th Century, one hundred and twelve years ago.
In 2010 California voters revamped the mechanics for primary elections in that state with passage of Proposition 14.
Proposition 14 replaced partisan primaries for state and congressional offices with a single ballot where all candidates run regardless of their respective party affiliation. The two candidates with the most number of votes are the two candidates advanced to the general election.
This change means that the top two vote getters’ in the primary election could be candidates from the same party or candidates from opposing parties. The salient change under Prop 14 is eliminating the guarantee that the two candidates in the general election would have to be Democratic and Republican.
“This is a historic race with the new rules in place this year. For the first time since 1856 there can be two Democrats and no Republicans on the general election ballot for U.S. Senator,” Levitt said during an interview last Thursday in Sebastopol, a small town in Sonoma County about fifty miles north of San Francisco.
“It is in the interest of the Democratic Party and the state of California to have a progressive candidate on the general ballot with Feinstein,” Levitt said, subjectively advancing his candidacy.
“There are more progressives in California than Birthers,” Levitt said alluding to one of the Republican Party U.S. Senate candidates in America’s most populous state.
Orly Taitz, widely seen as the leading Republican senatorial candidate, is a prominent figure in the anti-Obama Birther Movement. Taitz has filed lawsuits challenging President Obama’s right to serve claiming he was born in Kenya and not the US as required by the Constitution.
Taitz, a Russian-born immigrant from Israel, has called President Obama the “most dangerous thing one can imagine” because of what Taitz claims is the President’s support of “radical communism and radical Islam.”
While David Levitt is campaigning as a Democrat his political perspective is that of an independent, inspired by the Occupy Movement. Levitt, for example, does not accept corporate contributions for his campaign.
“We need public financing of political campaigns. Having unlimited money in politics is not a solution,” Levitt said. “It shouldn’t cost $5-million to win a primary if our priorities are in the right place.
The objectionable coziness and collusion between Democrats and Republicans sparked Levitt’s decision to challenge Feinstein, a former mayor of San Francisco the U.S. Senate since 1992.
“The reality is Democrats and Republicans agree on too many things yet disagree on the things that the public wants the most.”
The majority of Americans, Levitt points out, want an immediate end to the war in Afghanistan but Republican and Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill favor a withdraw beginning in 2014…maybe.
“Spending billions on wars in the Middle East which help terrorist organizations gain recruits is backwards,” Levitt said.
The majority of Americans want single-payer health care but leaders on Capitol Hill sided with the present private system, Levitt said.
“There are 35 countries in the world with better health care than America. President Obama didn’t stand up for a single-payer system as he promised and as 59% of the American people want.”
Levitt criticizes Senator Feinstein for not standing up on an issue of important to a majority of the citizens of California – medical marijuana.
Feinstein is silent on the Obama Administration’s crack down on medical marijuana in that state – approved by voters there in 1996 – destroying tax-paying medical marijuana businesses, killing thousands of jobs and increasing suffering among patients needing medical marijuana.
“Senator Feinstein is beyond mute on this medical marijuana issue. She is saying nothing about the disruptions of jobs and the economy from these Obama Administration raids that go against (Obama’s) pledge not to attack medical marijuana,” Levitt said.
“Closing the medical marijuana businesses will only help boost the business of the Mexican Drug Cartels. Feinstein is so out of touch…and Obama is trying to look as right-wing as the GOP in this election year with these raids.
Levitt said that as a candidate and a citizen he feels that President Obama is not standing-up sufficiently for “people of color.”
People of color are the principal targets of marijuana enforcement from California to Philadelphia despite whites being the predominate users of the substance according to the findings of repeated federally financed reports.
In California, blacks are four-times more likely to endure arrest for marijuana than whites – a figure similar to Philadelphia’s arrest rate.
Levitt graduated from Yale “at age 20” and obtained a PhD in computer sciences from MIT.
“People think integrity in politics is more important than experience,” Levitt said.
“Many see experience as tied to the corrupt system that people oppose.”
Linn Washington Jr. is a graduate of the Yale Law Journalism Fellowship Program.