By Erin Bank
Quentin Kopp is busy.
He is 91 years old and has his fingers in more pots than most 30-year-olds: serving as a council for one law firm; providing ad hoc legal services to his own clients; working on real estate development deals throughout the Bay Area; raising money and serving on boards for various nonprofits; battling with California State Senator Scott Weiner over housing bills and the future of the Cow Palace; and contributing his, at times, gruff voice to columns in the Westside Observer, Sunset Beacon and Richmond Review newspapers.
What ties all these projects together?
“I can’t say no,” Kopp chuckles. “I come from a ‘save the taxpayers’ money’ perspective.”
Perhaps this is why he got a phone call from Tom Campbell, former Republican U.S. congressman and state senator representing the Bay Area.
“His call was about the notion of starting a new political party,” Kopp says, describing one more project: he is on the senior advisor team of the burgeoning Common Sense Party.
In San Francisco, where voters recently elected progressive candidates for the offices of district attorney (Chesa Boudin) and District 5 representative on the SF Board of Supervisors (Dean Preston), a new party that attracts disenfranchised Republicans and moderate Democrats may not seem to be relevant, especially one that is the brainchild of a pair of politicians seemingly from another era.
The rest of the Common Sense Party leadership tempers that image, especially Co-Chair (to Campbell’s position of Chair) Debbie Benrey, a 33-year-old native Mexican (U.S. citizen as of May 2019) who cut her teeth at the Mexican Consulate in Boston. Advisors comprise a diverse (and fairly young) group who mention lofty goals of reshaping politics and a government that speaks for the people.
On its website, the Common Sense Party is framed as a needed antidote to the lack of choices in California, the polarized nature of the two-party system and the inefficiencies of current government.
Why now? Kopp cites the fall in registered GOP voters (now at 24 percent) and relatively high percent of voters indicating no party preference (28 percent).
Kopp says the party will especially appeal to voters registered with the American Independent Party.
“A survey two years ago by the Los Angeles Times showed that about 40 percent of the people registered in the American Independent Party were misled into thinking they were registering as independents,” he said.
In order to get on the ballot in 2020 – for state races only, he assures, not federal – the party needs 67,000 signatures of registered voters to become a qualified party. As of October, 2019, they had 15,000. The party’s goal is to get “maybe four or five candidates for legislative offices in which there’s no incumbent.” Kopp said.
The Common Sense Party would promote any candidate – regardless of party affiliation – who meets the party’s “principles of fiscal care, fiscal conservatism if you want to call it that, and social moderation and tolerance,” Kopp said.
“We don’t care about what your gender preference is, we don’t care what your national origin is, what your color is: come one, come all. We care about running government as economically as possible for taxpayers. We don’t believe in gouging or misspending taxpayer money.”
Kopp’s focus on fiscal responsibility centers on the inefficiencies of government. He listed examples of government waste, including the Central Subway project, Transbay Terminal, Geary rail project, proposals to build high-rise housing in residential areas (citing Senator Scott Weiner’s Senate Bills 827 and 50, to allow high-rises in transit-rich areas), the decline of Lake Merced and the failure of the high-speed rail project.
For more information about the Common Sense Party, visit http://www.cacommonsense.org