The Issue Is: The 2024 battle begins

The countdown is on. 

California is now just over a year from the all-important 2024 primary.

Already, one of the most hotly-contested races is for Senate, multiple candidates, including Representatives Adam Schiff and Katie Porter, already vying to replace retiring Senator Dianne Feinstein.

This week, a new contender entered the race, Oakland Congresswoman Barbara Lee.

Following her campaign announcement, Lee joined Elex Michaelson on The Issue Is.

During an extensive discussion, Lee, who, if elected, would be the only Black woman in the U.S. Senate, makes her pitch to primary voters and lays out the policy differences that separate her from her competition.

Lee also opens up about her early life and activism, from her time at San Fernando High School, working with the NAACP to change the rules to become the school’s first Black cheerleader, to her back-alley abortion in the days before Roe V. Wade.

Next, Michaelson is joined by Andrew Yang, former Democratic Presidential candidate, and Christine Todd Whitman, the former Republican Governor of New Jersey.

The former Democrat and Republican are working to give disaffected voters a new choice, an independent third party called The Forward Party. The pair are working to register at least 100,000 Californians to the party in the coming months and are also pushing to reform the way candidates are elected.


REP. LEE’S CENTRAL TAKE: "First of all, I have had a history of fighting for what is right as a progressive black woman. I have brought my lived experiences and turned them into public policy so that I can help lift everyone up who've had these lived experiences here in California. And there's so many gaps in the Senate that I believe that I can fill based on my experience, my lived experiences, and connecting with voters who share the same issues that I have throughout my life…"


REP. LEE’S CENTRAL TAKE: "It was really hard, but I talked about an abortion I had, before Roe - this was when I lived in the valley. My mother, we talked about this, why the pros and cons and just like now, it should be nobody else's business. We said, okay, we made this decision. It was a personal decision. But abortions were illegal throughout the country, so my mother sent me to a good friend of hers who I knew in El Paso, and she knew a doctor in Juarez, and it was a back-alley. I was terrified because it was illegal in Mexico, it was illegal everywhere, and I was worried that I wouldn't survive because Black women died from septic abortions more than any other reason during that day. So I was terrified, but I was one that survived….

"But I was worried that when I left that back alley, I would be arrested because it was illegal, came back to Texas, worried that they'd arrest me, come back to California, worried. And that's what's happening now. Women and people are being criminalized for just making their own personal decisions about their bodies. So that's why I started talking about it, because even though it was hard, but I felt like I had to connect with voters and people and who understood that it's okay, that we have to fight back these restrictive laws, because we're turning the clock back…."


REP. LEE’S CENTRAL TAKE: "I voted against the authorization as it relates to Afghanistan and Iraq, because it takes away Congress's ability, our constitutional requirement to debate and decide whether or not we're going to authorize the president to use force. That's the issue…

"It's very important that the Ukrainian people and government win this because Putin is on the march, he is trying, but the Ukrainian people are showing how resilient they are and they're going to protect their democracy. And so we have to continue to support the Ukrainian people. I think that the president is correct in putting forth the administration's policy, showing that they're not going to cross that line because we cannot get into a war with Russia, and they're being very careful in how they make sure that they're making sure that we don't end up sending ground troops into Russia and Ukraine and, you know, making sure that the United States doesn't get embroiled in a war with Russia…"


YANG’S CENTRAL TAKE: "Forward is a positive, independent political movement that wants to give us real choices in our own communities. Here in California, we know it's essentially a one-party state, Democrats have a super majority, and there are a lot of Californians who don't think things are working, they don't think either party, frankly, is going to actually solve the problems. That's why we're here in California. We are launching in tandem with the Common Sense Party of California.... We're creating a new political party right here in California, so if you want a real choice, we're here for you, we need to build it and give you an alternative to a Democratic Party that can't solve the problems that are getting worse in your communities…."


YANG’S CENTRAL TAKE: "We're looking to get party recognition by the end of this year, which would allow the Forward party to potentially back candidates in the '24 race. Our goal is to get 90-to-100,000 party registrants here in in California by October. We're already at 30,000 or so. So we think we're going to get there. And then there could be a Forward Party candidate at any race at any level here in the state…"

WHITMAN’S CENTRAL TAKE: "And there are over 500,000, across the country, election opportunities, and fully 70% of those are uncontested. So what we want to say is everybody should have a choice. So we're really focused on local races - they're just as important, in fact, they make a lot of the decisions that most directly impact your life, and so those are important, those are where we want to really concentrate…"


YANG’S CENTRAL TAKE: "I think that Joe should step aside and allow there to be a competitive process to determine who the nominee is going to be. You're not going to see that in the Democratic Party because there are too many people who are conformists and careerists where they say, 'look, I might think Joe is too old, but let me just wait for four years.' Unfortunately, the country doesn't have that luxury. I think the Democrats are going to step aside for Joe, and I think it's a mistake…"

"I think that you can do much better than an 82-year-old Joe Biden as your nominee in 2024. Most Americans see that. It's common sense, but you're not going to hear that from the Democratic leadership because they've been told, look, it's Joe just, you know, like, frankly, you keep your true thoughts to yourself because we all know, the American people know, that it's deeply unwise to propose an octogenarian as your party's nominee in 2024…"

The Issue Is: with Elex Michaelson is California's only statewide political show. For showtimes and more information, go to