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, April 27, 2009

CA Democratic Convention Wrap-Up

Back from the weekend's California Democratic Convention, and with a good night's sleep behind me, I thought I would post my recap of the event. But first, the one-word executive summary: SUCCESS!

I came to the convention with high hopes for a number of candidates and issues. In earlier posts I talked about my positions on the candidates, specifically my endorsements of Karen Bernal for chair of the Progressive Caucus and Karen Weinstein for the Women's Caucus; my endorsement (along with a bunch of volunteering, even with the kids helping) for Hilary Crosby for Controller of the party, and my hopes to block a party endorsement of 1A and its little sisters.

When Karen Bernal easily won her race on Friday evening, I started a running gag with fellow progressive delegate (and issues chair of the City of Alameda Democratic Club) Mark Briggs: "One down, three to go." Saturday morning, after a dreadfully early 7:30 AM convening of the Women's caucus, we found the Karen Weinstein and in fact her entire slate that ran on the platform that the caucus should actually do something, all but swept the results. (One position ended up in a tie and I never found the final result.) I held up the number two (which, coincidentally, could be interpreted as "peace" or "victory", but I digress).

I should mention that most of my time Friday and Saturday was alternating between helping with Hilary Crosby's campaign and opposing proposition 1A, along with attending meetings and watching speeches from the main hall. I barely had a chance to rest or eat — when I took a walk and quiet lunch break finally on Saturday, I hadn't eaten a proper meal since the previous lunch!

Saturday evening I attended the "Red to Blue" dinner rather than the official Party's dinner banquet. It was attended by grassroots Dems whom I've known from the Howard Dean days as well as John Edwards campaign events. Howard Dean himself was there, first mingling and then giving a short but well-received speech. Following were awards presented to local "red county" congressional candidates (including the victorious Jerry McNerney). The speeches were heartfelt and received warm ovations — but when Hilary Crosby came up to the podium to announce that she'd just gotten the results, and that she had won the controller's race, the room erupted in cheers that dwarfed the earlier applause. She had won by 54% but it seemed like nearly 100% of the people in the room were her supporters or volunteers who spent hours making phone calls to fellow delegates (rather than her opponent's robo-calls), preparing campaign materials, and working the convention floor over the last two days.

"That's three."

Sunday, I spent the entire morning talking to fellow delegates and passing out anti-1A stickers that a small group of us in the area had designed and printed ourselves, alongside other folks who were handing out pro-1A stickers (We played nice) and other anti-1A groups. We had already distributed a couple of thousand bright orange informational "Why Proposition 1A is a Bad Idea" flyers on Saturday; now it was down to the final push. I had to take a break to go see Howard Dean and Debra Bowen speak, but otherwise it was non-stop trying to get people to show their support for blocking the party's endorsement of this proposition and help convince people who were on the fence.

When I saw the chairwoman of the resolutions committee up on stage, I knew it was time to go take my seat so I could vote. And after impassioned arguments from both sides of the issue (who care about the same things at the end of the day, which made it hard for many to grasp the issue), it came time to vote. These endorsement votes, designed to capture a sense of the party's consensus, require a 60% majority to pass. And 1A managed to get … 58%. I don't have the actual counts but we managed to block the endorsement by something like 22 or 26 votes. We managed to prevent the Democratic Party from endorsing Proposition 1A. And with the Republican party opposing it (yes, politics makes strange bedfellows), we may be able to prevent it from succeeding at the polls.

"That's four."

The other measures had some fights, but the results were pretty much what I expected. Proposition 1B, which brought education funding, easily got the party endorsement, though it's symbolic only because it would only go into effect if the damaging Proposition 1A were to pass. Proposition 1C's endorsement passed, which I'm not too happy about, but then again, I despise the entire way that the lottery ("taxation for the poor") is tied to our education budget. (One speaker argued "balancing the budget on the backs of those who play the lottery is despicable and shameful," which sums it up for me.) 1D and 1E failed to achieve an endorsement. Finally, Proposition 1F, a weak incentive to legislators to balance the budget, is clearly a measure designed to pander to the voting masses. I started out opposed to the measure, but the speakers in favor of it had some very convincing arguments that it would essentially be good public relations for the Democratic Party to come out in favor of reform, especially because it is polling so well. Most delegates ended up agreeing, and its endorsement passed overwhelmingly. What-ever.....

So all in all, a successful (and enjoyable) convention!


Blogger goldcoastjon said...

What is your read on the upcoming Newsom-Brown contest to succeed Arnold? Is Gavin Newsom "ready for prime time" yet? Is Jerry brown too old and out of touch to govern CA again?

2:56 PM  
Blogger A Progressive Alamedan said...

That's a good question. I'm not that enthused about either of them, and I think you hit their weak spots right on. Right now it's really hard to tell, and I've heard arguments from all sides, including that of Villaraigosa. Just too early to tell, I think.

3:36 PM  

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