By Ken Stone
In the afterglow of Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s remarks Thursday night in San Diego, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez noted she publicly backed no Democrat for president in 2016.
“I wasn’t going to endorse this time — I just couldn’t help myself,” she said overlooking the steps to the County Administration Center.
But when Gonzalez was recently phoned — “Hi, Lorena, this is Elizabeth Warren; I wanted to call and congratulate you on AB5” — the die was cast.
“OH MY LIFE!!!!” Gonzalez gushed on Twitter.
Gov. Gavin Newsom had just signed the landmark bill amending state labor law that Gonzalez championed to help “gig economy” workers secure employee rights — and boost prospects for labor unions.
So four hours before embracing Warren on stage, Gonzalez endorsed the surging Massachusetts Democrat for president. Classify it a surprise.
Less than a week ago, Gonzalez tweeted positive thoughts about former Housing Secretary Julián Castro — even urging: “Come on…. you know you love him. Give @JulianCastro $15 before midnight!!!!”
She also introduced Castro at one of his events in San Diego.
But he, and other presidential candidates, couldn’t press the same buttons Warren did — as the first Democratic White House hopeful to back Assembly Bill 5.
“We’ve been talking to the [presidential] campaigns,” Gonzalez told Times of San Diego. “We’ve hosted most of the candidates [at] the [Latino] caucus to talk about immigration issues and issues important to California. So I’ve been able to speak to most of the candidates.”
Thus California favorite daughter Sen. Kamala Harris and Castro — the only Latino in the race — lost the Lorena vote.
It was during that congratulatory AB5 call that Warren asked the chair of the California Latino Legislative Caucus for her endorsement.
Now the District 80 lawmaker piles more on her burgeoning plate — and grows her national profile.
She’s pledging to stump for Warren while seeking re-election in 2020 and ramping up her campaign to be the first Latina elected to statewide office in California — as secretary of state in 2022.
“We want to go to states where it’s important, where there are Latino populations or labor populations, who want to hear from her surrogates,” 48-year-old Gonzalez said of 70-year-old Warren. “We’d be happy to do that and to continue to support her in any way I can.”
She’d also travel to states without her to “just pitch the cause,” she said, sitting next to her husband Nathan Fletcher, the county supervisor. “Absolutely.”
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Warren’s labor plans also key off Gonzalez’s.
“Not only would Warren push for a national version of AB 5, she says she would also make misclassification a labor violation, instead of a just a tax issue,” Vox reported.
Warren says on her website: “As long as gig workers are considered independent contractors, they may not be able to bargain collectively or form unions under state or municipal law because such organizing can be considered price-fixing under federal antitrust law.
“Although some states have taken steps to crack down on the widespread practice of misclassifying workers as independent contractors – and I will push for a federal law to end worker misclassification – we should also protect these workers in any interim period. A Warren administration will modernize antitrust law to protect the right of these individuals to form unions.”
What did Gonzalez think of Warren’s speech Thursday?
“I thought it was perfect,” she said. “It reminded me of why I endorsed her.”
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