Notes for Tom Campbell

Is the Common Sense Party basically libertarian?
Tom's legal research and expertise is in separation of powers. He has argued for letting states set their own COVID policies, etc., while still paying attention to individual liberties in exercising their police powers.
What is structurally wrong with politics in California? The one-party monopoly, which elects puppets for special interests. Lack of competition, etc.
Can CA Common Sense run a candidate for Governor?

Restoring Common Sense to California

In January of 1776, Thomas Paine anonymously penned a radical proposal for American independence. “Common Sense,” the title of his pamphlet, has been a rallying cry for American patriots since our founding and continues to unite a dissatisfied public in the pursuit of better governance.

Today, a new Common Sense Party of California – led by Quentin Kopp and Tom Campbell – aims to free Californians from the yoke of single-party rule.

Ending One-Party Rule, Once and For All

California has problems. From drought to fires, a bankrupt pension system, homelessness, unemployment, and housing crises, the only “solutions” our leaders have offered are more regulation, higher taxes, and the declaration of a permanent state of emergency.

The primary crisis, however, is the lack of leadership.

The Democratic Party has failed liberal and conservative voters alike. Lacking serious competition from an increasingly irrelevant GOP, our legislature has let special interests write the laws – that is, when “Emperor Newsom” isn’t exercising indefinite and dubious “emergency powers.”

Help is On the Way

Meanwhile, former U.S. Congressman and California state senator Tom Campbell has been laying the groundwork for an independent third party that could run serious contenders for the state office as soon as 2022. Outside of his political career, Campbell has served as Dean of Chapman University’s Fowler School of Law, a Dean and professor at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, and Professor of Law at Stanford.

Campbell joins me this Sunday (8-9 am PACIFIC) to outline his vision of a party of principles and independence from political monopoly run by special interests. We’ll also discuss the ever-important question of separation of powers in the context of federalism and California’s COVID policy.

After learning about the Common Sense Party from Judge Quentin Kopp last fall, I’ve been eager to get an update. Signature gathering to get on the ballot was put on hold by the pandemic, but Campbell and Kopp are finally getting back to work. If the recall movement is any indicator of Californian’s dissatisfaction with the status quo, they should have no trouble getting the 70,000 required signatures to get on the ballot.

If you can’t listen live, be sure to subscribe to the podcast and leave a 5-star review.


Tom Campbell served as Dean of the Fowler School of Law from 2011 to 2016. He came to Chapman in January 2009 as a visiting Presidential Fellow and Fletcher Jones Distinguished Visiting Professor of Law. Prior to joining Chapman, he was the Bank of America Dean and Professor of Business from 2002 to 2008 at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley. Tom was a Professor of Law at Stanford University from 1987-2002; Associate Professor at Stanford, 1983-1987; a member of the United States Congress from 1989-1993 and 1995-2001; a member of the California State Senate from 1993-1995; and the director of the California Department of Finance from 2004-2005. He has a B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. in economics from the University of Chicago, and a JD, magna cum laude, from Harvard Law School, where he also served as a member of the board of editors of the Harvard Law Review. He was a law clerk to United States Supreme Court Justice Byron White, and to US Court of Appeals Judge George E. MacKinnon; a White House Fellow; executive assistant to the Deputy Attorney General, Department of Justice; and, director of the Bureau of Competition at the Federal Trade Commission.

Tom's principal area of academic work is in the application of economics to legal questions. He has published articles in the Harvard Law Review, the Columbia Law Review, the Stanford Law Review, the UCLA Law Review, the Texas Law Review, the Hastings Law Journal, and the Antitrust Law Journal, among others. He is the author of the book Separation of Powers in Practice, published by Stanford University Press (2004). Since 2001, Tom Campbell and his wife Susanne have taught in Africa as volunteers on seven separate occasions, in Ghana, Eritrea and Rwanda, where they taught courses in fund raising (Susanne) and international financial institutions, business strategy and constitutional law (Tom), at the following universities: Ashesi University, Accra, Ghana; Kigali Institute of Science and Technology, Kigali, Rwanda; School of Banking and Finance, Kigali, Rwanda; and the University of Asmara, Asmara, Eritrea

Main Articles

Talking Points + How is the Common Sense Party Different 03 17 21.pdf152.9KB
By Tom Campbell, 2020
The Great Depression created a massive growth in the federal government’s power. President Franklin D. Roosevelt accumulated central authority never before asserted in our democratic republic of states. The New Deal stretched the federal government’s authority over “interstate commerce” almost beyond recognition. The U.S. Supreme Court acceded to this expansion, especially after its ranks were filled by eight FDR appointments to the court. One of their decisions allowed the federal government to order an Ohio farmer not to grow wheat on his own land, for grinding into flour for his own family’s consumption. With that decision, practically anything could be swept under federal authority. President Trump could have asserted the federal government’s right to preempt the states in the current health crisis. Federal laws permit quarantine and restrictions on travel for public health reasons, if the president (or his appointee at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) so order. The president’s powers in an emergency are immense. Leaving the matter to the states allows some conflicts of policy. Rhode Island’s governor originally required New Yorkers to self-quarantine if they wanted to enter; after New York threatened to sue, she expanded the order to all out-of-state visitors. This issue will recur as some states come out of shelter- in-place before others, and people travel from the former to the latter. The CDC has issued guidance to all the states on when it is safe to terminate shelter-in-place orders. The New Deal precedent would have allowed the CDC to make those rules mandatory, and uniform, for all states. But President Trump has chosen not to follow FDR. Political critics contend that Trump has left responses to the virus to the states to avoid the risk of making unpopular decisions. Perhaps. But harsh partisanship has infected discussion of our country’s response to the virus. An especially egregious example was Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s statement that the “president is asking people to inject Lysol into their lungs.” He never said that. If we reject that kind of partisan misdirection, and judge the matter fairly, it might be recognized that states know their own varying conditions better than Washington does: including the virus’ spread, hospitals’ readiness and the economic harm suffered by social distancing state-by-state. A preference for respecting the judgments of state governments, and individual citizens, over utilizing massive federal power ought to be applauded in the rare cases it is encountered in a president. Since the states are in charge, are there limits on state governments’ abilities to order shutdowns? States have ordered shelter- in-place under states’ “police powers.” This is a phrase the U.S. Supreme Court has used to describe all the powers a state has to improve its residents’ health, economic situation, education and even morality (the issue arose over anti-gambling laws). There is scant constitutional basis to restrict a state’s police powers. The U.S. Constitution is essentially a document that limits federal, not state, authority. The Ninth Amendment protects people’s rights other than those specifically stated in the Constitution, but it doesn’t identify those rights. The Tenth Amendment says any powers not delegated to the federal government are retained “by the States, respectively, or to the people.” It doesn’t tell us where the states’ powers start and the people’s rights end. The Constitution requires states to preserve the “privileges and immunities” of citizens of the United States; but the court ruled in 1873, and has maintained ever since, that those privileges do not include the right to practice one’s profession or business. A state can’t take away property from individuals without “due process of law,” but that doesn’t prevent a state from shutting down a person’s livelihood to prevent contagion, the court held as early as 1824. Americans must guard our liberties most assiduously in time of crisis. However, courts are not our sole guardians. The most important protection we have is to choose a president and governor who respect our liberty. Tom Campbell is a professor of law and of economics at Chapman University. He has written a text on the Constitution, “Separation of Powers in Practice.” He served five terms in Congress and two years in the California state Senate. He resigned from the Republican Party when it nominated President Trump, and is currently forming a new party in California, the Common Sense Party.

Republicans are leaving the party for independent party, partly because of the capitol riots.

3/4 of defectors became independent rather than Democrat.

“The problem facing the [Republican] Party … is a deep split between many traditional Republicans and newly engaged populists, nativists and white supremacists,” Shepard said via email. “Until that split is resolved, it’s hard to see a path to reducing defections.”

Common Sense Party

End California's single party rule with principles, compromise, and by representing those without a voice currently.

Our short-term goal is to qualify as a party so that we can put our ideas into action. An early goal is to elect more independent-minded Californians to public office. We seek to put people in office who will be driven by facts, will work across partisan divides, will be open to principled compromise, and will show a commitment to solving California’s complex problems.

California law allows independent candidates to compete against just one other major candidate in the general election.

How do we do this? In 2010 California voters passed Proposition 14, establishing the Top-Two Primary to increase the right to participate in primary elections by putting all of the candidates on a single ballot. The top-two vote getters advance to the general election. Before that, it was virtually inevitable that the major parties’ candidates would always proceed to the November election. As a result, the winner in November was almost always either a Democrat or a Republican. In California’s top-two primary, if an independent-minded candidate comes in second or first, she or he will face only one opponent, likely a Democrat or a Republican, in November. In that situation, the independent has an excellent chance of winning the large percentage of California voters who are independent (statewide, that’s 24%), as well as the members of the major party whose candidate did not make it to the finals.

Not all Californians are happy with the democratic party.

Marin County GOP is thoroughly Trumpian.

I spoke with Kopp and Campbell. In San Francisco, Kopp’s base was small business owners, homeowners and good-government types. Campbell, one of the last liberal Republicans, is reminiscent of North Bay GOP state senator Peter Behr: fiscally prudent, socially liberal and environmentally aware. Campbell proclaims, “We can do better.” He quotes Buckminster Fuller saying, “You never change something by fighting the existing model. You build something new.”
It’s opportunity to play a practical role in Sacramento stems from California’ top-two electoral scheme. If Common Sense Party candidates reach a top-two position in selected districts, they have a shot to win eight to 12 seats. They could have a real chance in Marin and Sonoma by recruiting a first-class candidate.
That’ll cause Democrats to lose their veto-proof legislative supermajority, a task at which the GOP will continue to fail. That’ll place Common Sense legislators in the catbird seat.

Californians are leaving for Texas



Past Shows' Notes/Transcripts

Kopp is supporting Tom Campbell’s Common Sense Party:

Some conclude partisan infighting is responsible for poor government performance, but did you know for the past 20 years California has effectively had single-party rule? Yet, did you also know?

  • We have over 150,000 Californians living on the streets
  • 1 in 5 Californians live below the poverty line
  • CA’s housing prices are almost 2.5x the national average
  • 3 CA cities are in the Top 5 worst commutes in the US
  • CA has $1T in long term debt and pension obligations (that is roughly $50,000 per voter)
  • Over 50% of Californians are thinking of leaving California

They were on track to have enough signatures to run candidates in 2022, but stopped gathering because of COVID:

California law officially recognizes a new party when it has gathered 68,000 members. Up until COVID-19 hit, we had been steadily approaching that goal, relying almost entirely on in-person solicitors outside of shopping centers. We had a plan to ramp up our efforts in April, May, and June, because the paid signature-gatherers also circulate initiatives, and the initiatives’ deadlines were almost all over in April. The circulators’ focus would grow, and our cost per signature would fall, after March.

We had submitted 20,000 voter registrations by March. Then the virus hit. The Governor declared a state of emergency on March 1. On March 8, we voluntarily took our signature gatherers off the streets for their safety and that of the public. On March 19, Governor Newsom ordered a stay-at-home advisory statewide.

We have not resumed in-person registration solicitation since.  We were right not to do so, in my view, since today’s news reports a spike in cases in California. It would speak terribly for our party if we put our own political goals (however important) ahead of the safety of our state’s residents and our own signature-gatherers.

The difficulty this caused us, however, was severe. The deadline for reaching 68,000 signatures is July 3. Covid-19 cut out in-person solicitation, our only effective way to gather registrations.

Sept. 2019 - Pre-COVID Op-ed by Campbell and Kopp :

We can prepare for the next drought now, when it’s raining, without harming the environment, by storing more water. We can care for the homeless better and keep all residents safer from health risks by removing people from the streets. The courts have ruled; as long as shelter is available, there is no constitutional right to camp on city streets. We can be tough on criminals but realistic that much crime is due to a drug or health problem rather than a law enforcement one. We can make California friendly to business and agriculture so our residents possess jobs with a future.…
The top-two primary in California makes a new California party possible in a way not feasible at the national level. Nationally, third parties have failed because they drew supporters from one of the two major parties and thus helped elect the candidate least like the third-party candidate. That happened with Ross Perot hurting George H.W. Bush in 1992, and Ralph Nader hurting Al Gore in 2000.…
In California, however, only two candidates make it to the November general election. If an independent candidate is on the ballot in November, she or he has a good chance of winning; picking up support from independents and from the major party whose candidate didn’t finish in the top two.”

“I can’t say no,” Kopp chuckles. “I come from a ‘save the taxpayers’ money’ perspective.”

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.

The Inception of the Common Sense Party

Bob Zadek: Now, the last topic I would like to cover this morning is one that really put a spring in my step. I have lived all of my voting life on the political fringes, and I noticed that you popped up yet again in my life as one of the leaders and sponsors of a third party — the common sense party, with some interference due to the pandemic. So, for our listeners out there who care about how the government works, please share with us your concept of the common sense party and what you hoped to accomplish.

Quentin Kopp: I’d be pleased to do that. I was invited about two years ago by Tom Campbell, who now teaches law at Chapman University School of Law in Orange County. I served with him in the State Senate, and he’s also been in the House of Representatives. He’s probably the smartest person that I’ve ever seen in elective office, and I was invited to join others and him in forming a new party. For practical purposes, this is a one-party state, and is controlled entirely by the Democratic Party, which has over a two thirds majority of Democrats in the assembly, two thirds majority in the State Senate and in every state office, from Attorney General to the Secretary of State to comptroller.

Republican registration is somewhere around 23% or more, and more people are registered as independents. There are other parties too — the American Independent party, which was started by one-time and presidential nominee George Wallace, the Green Party, and the Libertarian Party. As you said, this is an idea of a party just for California, and now it successfully could be used in other states and as a major national party.

The goal is to get 68,000 registered voters, which you need to qualify as a political party in the Secretary of State and become certified as a political party. The principles of the party are to promote candidates whether or not they’re members of the common sense party or any party who are fiscally conservative, believe in fiscal discipline and spending taxpayer money, are socially inclusive with respect to race or gender, religion, age, and sexual orientation, are compassionate for Californians who can’t take care of themselves, and are independent thinkers basing decisions on facts rather than adherence to the orthodoxy of any other political party.

The pandemic stopped us from getting 68,000 registered voters. We had about 19,000 to 20,000 registered as Common Sense Party members as of March 8 of this year when the governor issued his first executive order that effectively stops signature gatherers from doing that in shopping centers or malls or in front of grocery stores or any place where people congregate. That’s happened in six or seven other states, both with respect to party inauguration and also ballot measures.

In California, with respect to ballot measures of the Secretary of State, we were allowed to be qualified for the ballot in November without obtaining the necessary initiative signatures, and we filed suit both in US District Court for the Eastern District of California and Sacramento in the Sacramento County Superior guard to accomplish that.

Bob Zadek: Fiscally conservative and socially liberal. Hmm. Sounds kind of libertarian to me. Is that just a coincidence?

Quentin Kopp: It’s a coincidence. We meet every week by telephone. I hadn’t thought about the fact. Nobody’s mentioned the word libertarian.

Bob Zadek: Well, tell your buddies that I’ve mentioned it. Now, Quentin. When you come back, I’m going to ask you as the first question to share with us all your lawsuit against the US civil service of all things questioning Don Trump Jr.’s trip to India. That’s a teaser to our friends out there so they email me to invite you back.