California is not doing very well. It has the largest budget deficit of any state, and its funding of schools, health care, transportation and other basic services is held hostage by far right-wing Republicans. Yet California is staunchly Democratic in presidential and U.S. Senate races, and produced the greatest number of Obama volunteers of any state. Why this disconnect? How is it that a state that votes progressively on national issues has allowed its public sector to decline, and subjects its employees to annual layoff fears? There are many explanations, but topping the list is a lack of statewide political leadership. Former Governor Gray Davis never excited grassroots progressives, and the legislative leadership team of Don Perata and Fabian Nunez were more concerned with expanding term limits than enacting progressive laws. Now, with the 2010 Democratic Governor’s primary approaching, California has a new chance. Can Jerry Brown, John Garamendi, Gavin Newsom or Antonio Villargaigosa fill this leadership gap? Or must California’s grassroots progressives take charge themselves, advancing statewide initiatives to address problems that Democratic politicians have not solved.