Olga Khazan in The Atlantic:
SAN FRANCISCO—Michael Shellenberger was more excited to tour the Tenderloin than I was, even though it was my idea. I was nervous about provoking desperate people in various states of disrepair. Shellenberger, meanwhile, seemed intent on showing that many homeless people are addicted to drugs. (If that seems callous to you, Shellenberger would say you’re in thrall to liberal “victim ideology.”) He told me not to worry. “You seem like a tough Russian chick, right?” he said as we walked up narrow sidewalks where hundreds of humans sleep at night, passing people sitting on wheelchairs, under tarps, and in tents. Many were slumped over or nodding off—from fentanyl, Shellenberger said. One man walked down the street hooting repeatedly to no one.
As we talked with people, Shellenberger kept introducing himself as a “reporter,” even though he’s running for governor of California. His candidacy has indeed involved a lot of interviewing: He often films himself asking homeless people about their lives and tweets about it. He has also written several books, including last year’s San Fransicko: Why Progressives Ruin Cities, which makes the argument that has become a central plank of his candidacy: What most homeless people need is not, in his words, “namby pamby” TLC from lefty nonprofits but a firm hand and a stint in rehab. He’s essentially a single-issue candidate running against homelessness and its consequences. Fortunately for him, that’s an issue Californians feel strongly about. And thanks to California’s top-two “jungle” primary system, there’s a chance he could make it past the June 7 primary and face off against California Governor Gavin Newsom in the general election.