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Tuesday June 5, 2018 — California Primary Election
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State of CaliforniaCandidate for Governor

Photo of Zoltan Istvan

Zoltan Istvan

Entrepreneur/Transhumanist Lecturer
14,447 votes (0.2%)
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Provide a universal basic income via monetizing unused federal land (not raising taxes)
  • Decriminalizing all drugs and ending the war on drugs
  • Lowering taxes dramatically across the state



Profession:Entrepreneur & Transhumanist
Self employed Entrepreneur real estate & Transhumanist Lecturer, Zoltan Istvan (2010–current)
2016 Transhumanist Party Presidential nominee, Transhumanist Party — Elected position (2015–2016)


Columbia University Bachelor of Arts, Philosophy and Religion (current)

Community Activities

Advisor, Transhumanist Party (2016–current)


Zoltan Istvan is often considered the world’s leading transhumanist and a top Libertarian futurist. Zoltan began his futurist career by publishing The Transhumanist Wageran award-winning, #1 bestseller in Science Fiction and Philosophy. The libertarian-minded novel has been compared to Ayn Rand’s work many times in major media and was a Top 5 Amazon book. During the 2016 elections, Zoltan interviewed with Gary Johnson to potentially be his preferred Vice Presidential running mate. Zoltan is also a well known technology journalist and a former filmmaker for the National Geographic Channel. As a successful entrepreneur, The New Yorker cited Zoltan made a "small real estate fortune." Zoltan also has executive experience via his former position as a director at a major wildlife nonprofit, WildAid. In total, Zoltan’s public work has received hundreds of millions of views, much of it through his political activism. He is running for California Governor for the Libertarian Party in 2018. Zoltan has spoken at the World Bank, the World Economic Forum, Microsoft, and been the opening Keynote at the Financial Times Camp Alphaville. He is a graduate of Columbia University, and lives in San Francisco with his physician wife and two young daughters. In a 5000-word feature on Zoltan, The New York Times wrote Zoltan is “polite and charismatic” and has a “plausibly Presidential aura.”

Who supports this candidate?

Questions & Answers

Questions from KQED and League of Women Voters of California Education Fund (5)

There is a shortage of affordable housing in California. How would you approach addressing California’s housing crisis? Please include specific proposals.
Answer from Zoltan Istvan:

There's a shortage for one reason and one reason only: Government regulation of the building industry is out of control. I made my money in real estate I know how difficult and practically insane it is to get anything done. The California housing crisis can be fixed by eliminating 75% of the regulation for builders. Only keep the most essential safety requreiments. Within a few years, a great majority of the housing woes will be over. And of course there will be a boom for the CA economy too.

California has some of the richest people in the country and some of the poorest. What would you do to reduce income inequality in California?
Answer from Zoltan Istvan:

I am a Gubernatorial candidate that supports a basic income. Mine is called a Federal Land Dividend, and it monetizes unused Federal land to pay a monthly basic income. California has 10 to 20 trillion dollars worth of Federal land. I say lease 75% of it to big business, and pay out the interest to Californians. If 75% of the Fed land is leased out at going prices, that would general approximately $5400 per month per California household. Poverty would forever be eliminated, and so would income inequality.

Currently there isn't enough money in the state retirement system to pay for all the benefits promised to government workers. What would you do as Governor to address the state’s unfunded pension liability?
Answer from Zoltan Istvan:

I would make a promise to pay all agreed pensions, but stop any new type of benefits. Quite simply, we need to be more fiscally responsible, and that begins with hard choices. But for those pensions that exist, I would utilize federal land and monetize it to help pay for existing pension concerns and liabilities. I would absolutely not raise taxes. 

How would you describe your feelings about charter schools? Are you in favor of any changes in the way the state governs charter schools?
Answer from Zoltan Istvan:

I would highly encourage charger schools, and I believe that if a tax payer pays into the system, then the certain part of that money should go towards the education opportunities of their choice, including charter school, public education, private schooling, etc. We need more control of our educational choices. 

California and the federal government have disagreed about enforcement of immigration laws. Do you support California’s current ‘Sanctuary State’ law? If not, why not? Are there additional strategies that you would pursue as Governor?
Answer from Zoltan Istvan:

I support California being a sanctuary state, and I would encourage far more open border policies. I have easily the most open border policies of any CA gubernatorial candidate--and I propose better technology to monitor people so we can keep tabs on who comes across the border. Ultimately, I simply believe people should live where they want. But I would not give any welfare resources to the illegal immigrants, and I will not allow homelessness. You are welcome to come to California, but you must not be a burden on the state, nor be a burden on the public. 

Who gave money to this candidate?


More information about contributions

Source: MapLight analysis of data from the California Secretary of State.

Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy

Like many entrepreneurs, I became a libertarian because of one simple concept: reason. It just made sense to embrace a philosophy that promotes maximum freedom and personal accountability. “Hands off” was my motto—and in business, if you wanted to succeed, those words are sacred. But “hands off” applies to more than just good entrepreneurial economics. It applies to social life, politics, culture, religion, and especially how innovation occurs.

I’ve been a passionate science and technology guy—an advocate of radical innovation—ever since I can remember. In college, I focused on the ethics and challenges of science for my Philosophy degree. But my stories for National Geographic and my witnessing of the Great Recession viscerally reminded me that government and the growing fundamentalism in Congress was desperately trying to control innovation and progress—even at the expense of people’s health, safety, and prosperity. With plenty of free time after the sale of my business to mount a challenge, I decided to take science and technology into the public and political realm; I decided to make a run for the U.S. presidency in 2016 as the self-described “science candidate.”

I knew I couldn’t win the election, but it was a great way to awaken many Americans to the desperate plight of our country’s increasingly stifled science and innovation sector. My experience in media has helped propel my candidacy. I spoke at the World Bank, appeared on The Joe Rogan Experience podcast, was interviewed by the hacker collective Anonymous, and consulted for the U.S. Navy about technology, among other things. Even 2016 Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson invited me to interview as his possible vice president. Alone in his New Mexico house, we talked shop for 24 hours solid. He chose Governor Bill Weld as his VP, but I left Johnson knowing I would soon be making a stand for the Libertarian Party.     

Due to the fact I was arguably the first visible science presidential candidate in American history, I ran a very centric, science and tech-oriented platform, one that was designed to be as inclusive of as many political lines as possible. With leadership comes some compromise, and I veered both right and left (mostly left) to try to satisfy as many people as I could, even when it meant going against some of my own personal opinions. I believe a politician represents the people, and he or she must never forget that—or forget the honor that such a task carries.

One thing I didn’t stray from was my belief that everything could be solved best by the ‘scientific method’—the bastion of reason that says a thing or idea works only if you can prove it again and again via objective, independent evaluation. I’ll always be a pragmatic rationalist, and reason to me is the primary motivator when considering how to tackle problems, social or otherwise. I continue to passionately believe in the promise of using reason, science and technology to better California and the world. After all, the standard of living has been going up around the globe because of a singular factor: more people have access to new science and technology than ever before. Nothing moves the world forward like innovation does.

Yet, in the political climate of 2018, few things seem more at risk as innovation. A conservative, religious government stands to overwhelm California with worries about radical tech and science, such as implementing Federal regulation that stifles artificial intelligence, driverless cars, stem cells, drones, and genetic editing.

Sadly, the same could be said of immigration, women’s rights, and environmental issues. Then there’s America’s move towards expanding its already overly expensive military, which you and I pay for out of our pockets so that generals can fight far-off wars. America can do better than this. California can do better than this.

And we must. After all, the world is changing—and changing quite dramatically. Even libertarians like me face the real possibility that capitalism and job competition—which we always advocated for—won’t survive into the next few decades because of widespread automation and the proliferation of robot workers. Then there’s the burgeoning dilemma of cyber security and unwanted tracking of the technology that citizens use. And what of augmenting intelligence via genetic editing—something the Chinese are leading the charge on, but most Americans seem too afraid to try? In short, what can be done to ensure the best future?

Much can be done. And I believe it can all be done best via a libertarian framework, which is precisely why I am declaring my run for 2018 California governor. We need leadership that is willing to use radical science, technology, and innovation—what California is famous for—to benefit us all. We need someone with the nerve to risk the tremendous possibilities to save the environment through bioengineering, to end cancer by seeking a vaccine or a gene-editing solution for it, to embrace startups that will take California from the world’s 7th largest economy to maybe even the largest economy—bigger than the rest of America altogether. And believe me when I say this is possible: artificial intelligence and genetic editing will become some of the first multi-trillion dollar businesses in the near future.

We can do this, California, and it doesn’t have to be through stale blue or red political parties, which have left many of us aghast at the current world. It can be done through the libertarian philosophy of embracing all that is the most inventive and unbridled in us—and letting that pave the way forward. A challenging future awaits us, but we can meet it head on and lead the way not just for California and America, but for all of humanity.

Videos (1)

— April 2, 2018 World Fair Nano

Zoltan Istvan dicsussed the Future of Basic Income via his Federal Land Dividend

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