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By Sarah Foster
Posted 1:00 AM Eastern
September 14, 2010

SACRAMENTO – It was an exhausting eight days, but California gubernatorial candidate Chelene Nightingale, the American Independent/Constitution Party's nominee, and her campaign team beat the odds, arriving at the state capital mid-afternoon Friday, Sept. 10, on schedule and on foot – completing an almost 200-mile trek through the San Joaquin Valley that they began a week earlier in Fresno.

If she was in pain, you wouldn’t know it. The 45-year-old “We the People’s candidate” (as she describes herself) walked without any trace of a limp, smiling and waving to the group of local supporters who turned out to cheer her and her companions. Then unaided she climbed the steps to the Capital and raised her arms in a victory salute.

Nightingale and her companions had truly earned the moment. At one point it was by no means certain she’d be able to finish the walk at all, let alone under her own power, because although she had walked the first 60 miles (from Fresno to Merced), by the third day what began as a few blisters developed into open wounds. At that point a doctor who had just joined the march ordered her to stay off her feet and use a wheelchair if she intended to make it to Sacramento.

Now pushing a wheelchair over a hundred miles is no trivial task, and when it’s 104 degrees – that’s serous work. Fortunately, supporters from communities along the way, many of them strangers, joined the group to lend a hand.

“While Chelene is disappointed that the skin on her feet adamantly disagrees with the fire in her heart, she is very thankful to have such loyal friends and supporters to help her through the day,” wrote campaign manager Dani Rascon in an online posting.

Temperatures in the valley soared over 100 degrees some afternoons. At times the road surface was hot enough to fry eggs – which did wonders for the soles of feet. Fortunately, no one else was crippled by blisters-turned-wounds. Although Highway 99 from Fresno north to Sacramento is a straight 172 miles, the walkers had to keep to a parallel road, which sometimes zigzagged away from the highway, taking them far out of the way and adding an extra 20 miles to their journey.

Despite setbacks, Nightingale was determined to walk the final day on her own, a distance of 13 miles from a hotel south of Sacramento. And she did.

“We all could have given up, but we didn’t,” Nightingale shouted from the top of the Capital steps. “And that’s what we have to be for liberty! We have to be ever vigilant and never give up!”

News Blackout

The march was dubbed the Save-Our-State Walk or Hardship Walk – and if you’ve not heard about it that’s no surprise. There’s been an almost complete blackout of news about Nightingale and other third-party candidates this election season. Nightingale announced her candidacy July 4 of last year, but few Californians have heard of her. The Walk was conceived as a way to circumvent the media and spread the word that there is a conservative candidate running for governor of the Golden State who has much more to say to them than either Democrat Jerry Brown or Republican Meg Whitman.

The New American magazine describes Nightingale as a “leading constitutional activist,” who has organized many rallies and marches in California, including the “Free the Texas Three” march for Deputy Gilmer Hernandez and Border Patrol Agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean in Hollywood.

According to TNA: “She has lobbied as a private citizen in both Sacramento and Washington, D.C., demanding secure borders and no amnesty. Nightingale has attended and spoken at Tea Parties and End the Fed events. It was owing to her past political achievements that the National Constitution Party leaders and members requested her to run for Governor in California as an American Independent candidate.”

Nightingale told TNA she did not immediately accept the invitation: “In fact, it took me several weeks of prayers and discussions before saying yes.” She said that before being contacted she had no interest in running for office, “but as a mother, I am concerned about the future of the United States for my children and future generations,” and decided it was time to enter the political arena.

Her untiring efforts in grassroots activism earned her the endorsements of Rev. Chuck Baldwin, 2008 presidential candidate for the Constitution Party and a columnist for NWV, who said she would be a “fantastic governor,” and G. Edward Griffin, author of The Fearful Master: a Second Look at the United Nations, and The Creature from Jekyll Island: A Second look at the Federal Reserve.

The California Secretary of State’s website reports Nightingale won a little over 58 percent of the American Independent Party [the state affiliate of the Constitution Party] vote in the June primary, securing her place on the November midterm election ballot.

Up Close and Personal

While the reason for the walk was to let the people of the San Joaquin Valley know about the campaign, as a spin-off benefit it gave Nightingale and her team the opportunity to see conditions in the area up close and personal -- to meet and talk with those people who are desperately trying to survive not only the recession but a severe cut-back of the irrigation water they depend upon for their crops – a cut-back ordered by the federal government ostensibly for the sake of a couple of fish species: delta smelt and winter-run salmon.


The scenes weren’t pretty and neither are the statistics. Studies estimate that by May 2009, lack of water in the San Joaquin Valley had cost 35,000 jobs and $830 million in farm revenue. And it hasn’t been getting any better.

So little band of patriots walked along, past abandoned and dying orchards, through communities with too many boarded-up store fronts and homes with foreclosed signs. They saw billboards in once-productive fields proclaiming: “Congress Created Dust Bowl’ – an attempt by farmers to inform passersby that the devastation isn’t the result of draught or “global warming.”

Nightingale said that in the entire week they did not see one sign, billboard, or bumper sticker for Jerry Brown, and only one billboard for Whitman -- and that was in Spanish. Apart from that one billboard there was nothing.

“We talked to farmers, truckers, families, even homeless people, along the way,” Nightingale recalled in comments at the Capital. “We talked to so many people who said if we don’t win, they’re going to leave the state.”

De-tax, De-regulate

The Nightingale Campaign for Governor addresses many issues, but for its Save-Our-State Walk focused on the dismal state of the state’s economy, including the slump in the number of jobs and its 12.4 percent unemployment rate. According to the L.A. Times, nationally, 37 states added jobs in July; while California has the third-highest unemployment rate in the nation, behind only Nevada at 14.3 percent and Michigan at 13.1 percent.

Nightingale’s solution: “Limited government, sound money, free market principles – that’s what’s best for the people,” she told NewsWithViews in an exclusive interview.

“Over-regulation and over-taxing is ruining our state,” she said. “We need to reduce both. I’d work immediately to reduce our taxes. I’d love to be able to go in there and line-item veto the sections of bills that are unconstitutional. People have asked me: ‘how would you stimulate the economy?’ Well, if you de-tax and de-regulate, people will come back and jobs will come back.”

With her focus on unemployment, a key part of the campaign is to promote passage of Proposition 23 (the "Jobs Initiative"), an initiative on the November ballot that would place a temporary hold on Assembly Bill 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act – California’s own cap-and-trade measure -- that the legislature passed in 2006.


This act requires California to develop regulations and a "scoping plan" to reduce so-called greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. The initiative would suspend the implementation of regulations until unemployment drops down to 5.5 percent or lower – hence its nickname: the Jobs Initiative. If Prop. 23 does not pass, AB 32 will go into full effect in January.

“If that prop fails, we’re in serious trouble,” Nightingale said. “I’d like to see the law abolished, period, but this at least would suspend it until our unemployment is reduced.”
“But the law is really unconstitutional and based on false science,” she observed (a view validated by last November’s ClimateGate exposé). “If Prop. 23 is not passed, we estimate that there will be a loss of 1.1 million jobs. It will obviously affect small business since it will cost a small business $40,000 to $50,000 to conform to the regulations. It will cost a family nearly $4,000. I’ve been talking to farmers who have said if it goes into affect -- they’re out.”

Nightingale’s views are in line with those of many Californians when she predicts, “[AB 32] will kill our state. I know that sounds alarmist, but our state will be finished. People won’t feel the effects for a couple of years, but by the next election they will.”

Second Amendment

Though the Jobs Initiative and the economy are focal points for the march, they’re not the campaign’s only issue. Nightingale is a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment. NewsWithViews did not discuss this with her, but checked with campaign manager Dani Rascon.

Rascon said Nightingale would like to see California become a “shall-issue” state when it comes to concealed weapons permits. It is presently a “may issue” state, which means it’s up to the city or county law enforcement agency whether an applicant receives a permit.

As Rascon put it: “You can pass all the background checks, you can take all the classes, you can do everything that’s required of you by law and they can still say no.”

Lesser of Two Evils?

When it comes to winning the governor’s race, Nightingale’s biggest problem may not be lack of name recognition but the “lesser of two evils” argument, the fear that NOT voting for a liberal Republican is in effect a vote for a liberal Democrat, like Brown.

But many conservatives are moving beyond that concern. Here are some excerpts from an e-mail a Republican Tea Party activist in Ventura County sent to NewsWithViews.

"...I am watching/helpping the sea change [in thinking] already beginning in the Tea Party. Yesterday [at a meeting] … We had a huge debate about Meg. Result:

- 60% of delegates say they will hold their nose and vote for Meg because Moonbeam is even worse.
- 40% said not just ‘no way,’ but no @#%^&*! way!

“The group did not resolve to support Meg. The 40% were extremely strongly opposed.

“Meg … is soft on illegal immigration and has repeatedly lied and contradicted herself about it. She is a global warmer/cap-and-trader and pro-choice. …

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"There are worthy Republican candidates, so I don't want to paint them all with the same brush, but I don't see why we should continue to reward the GOP with a vote for what is so obviously the stench of corruption and lies. I am DONE with 'lesser-of-two-evils' thinking. I cannot be part of this anymore. We need to punish this behavior so that there is absolutely no mistaking what we mean.

“I am standing up and voting for Chelene. Sooner or later we have to start the migration [away from the two major parties].”

Earlier Stories

1 - Sarah Foster: Chuck Baldwin and Ron Paul are Write-In Candidates in California: Oct. 27, 2008
2 - Sarah Foster: Ron Paul Endorses Constitution Party Chuck Baldwin for President: Sept. 23, 2008

More about Chelene Nightingale

1 - Campaign Website: Nightingale for Governor
2 - Chelene Nightingale: Wikipedia
3 - Mike Tharp: Gubernatorial Candidate's Feet Give Out, So She Rolls Through Valley Instead: Merced Sun-Star, Sept. 7, 2010
4 - Mark Lorier: Nightingale's 200-Mile March to Sacramento:, Sept. 6. 2010. Note: Lorier has written eight articles about Nightingale for his blog -- the number one blog on all things Californian, from lifestyle and entertainment to politics.
5 - Warren Mass: Interview: California Gubernatorial Candidate Chelene Nightingale: The New American, April 30, 2010
6 - Kimberly Dvorak: California Governor's Race Gains Another Female Candidate, Nightingale: San Diego Examiner, July 8, 2009

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Sarah Foster is a researcher and freelance writer:











Now pushing a wheelchair over a hundred miles is no trivial task, and when it’s 104 degrees – that’s serous work. Fortunately, supporters from communities along the way, many of them strangers, joined the group to lend a hand.