A Progressive Alamedan

Various writings from a resident of Alameda regarding the political scene. The local perspective of local, state and national politics and a few other odds and ends of local concern. May not be particularly interesting to people outside of the Alameda area.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Loni Hancock achieves -- or not -- Democratic Party Endorsement

At the local Democratic Party "Pre-endorsement" caucus on Saturday, Assembly member Loni Hancock either did, or didn't manage to achieve the required 70% threshold to claim the endorsement of the Democratic Party.

Here's how this works and what happened.

Shortly before the state convention, people running for office as Democrats can submit their name for consideration for endorsement by the state party. Endorsement by the party means that their names are on official party mailings and publicity, so it's quite a boost for their campaign if they can garner this endorsement.

Members of the California Democratic Party State Central Committee (including delegates like myself, county committee members elected by the general public, Democratic club representatives, and elected officials) can vote for these candidates (or vote "no endorsement") in person at the caucus meeting or by mailing in their vote in advance.

Congressman Stark received a 100% vote; Assembly member Swanson received not quite 100% (A couple of delegates voted 'no endorsement'). All of the races with only one member having filed for endorsement went something like that. In the contentious 14th assembly District (Berkeley and part of Oakland), there were four candidates vying to replace termed-out Loni Hancock, and no one candidate was able to achieve even a majority off the delegates. (Nancy Skinner and Tony Thurmond led the count.)

In the State Senate endorsement race, it was Loni Hancock vs. Wilma Chan. According to the vote count, Hancock achieved just over 70% of the vote, which would put her over the top and immediately achieve the party backing. However, there was a challenge issued about the validity of one of the votes (a question of whether one of the delegates voting was actually registered as a member of the Democratic Party). The votes were calculated to see if this would affect the result — and it did. This one less vote would bring Hancock to just under the 70% threshold for immediate endorsement. (The way this works is that if any candidate reaches a 50% majority but not 70%, a new vote will be held at the convention. This is what happened two years ago with Jerry McNerney, who did get the party endorsement in the new vote.)

So the result is up in the air — I don't know for how long, though. If the challenge succeeds, then there will be a new vote at the convention (where there will probably be a higher attendance, and much pre-vote schmoozing).

One factor that I found interesting, but not surprising, as the votes were read out loud — this is a public endorsement vote, after all. It seemed that most of the names of Alameda residents that I recognized were supporting Wilma Chan, and most people outside Alameda voted for Hancock. I suppose this could be "spun" either of two ways: that Alamedans know Wilma Chan well, and support her; or that Chan is only able to get significant support in her home town.

In any case, this is just an endorsement race, and not the general election. Who knows how things will turn out between now and June? As I"ve mentioned before, I'm personally supporting Loni Hancock — but I completely respect the choice of my fellow Alamedans who would prefer Wilma Chan, who is a strong candidate as well.


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