In an overall mood that was celebratory, California Democrats gathered on March 8, Saturday to celebrate their dominance in state politics and their prospects in this year’s election.
In this most populous state, Democrats hold all statewide offices and large majorities in the legislature.
Traditionally, the party holding its convention gets unfettered publicity while nominating and unveiling its campaign message.
Campaigns have changed: pamphlets are giving way to emails, the internet, even YouTube. There seems to be only one constant — it is only through words and pictures that we mainly we get to meet the contender. Photographers capture them around the Convention Center, in their stumps and during their less-guarded moments.
The photos paint a portrait of the contenders; the winner carries our hopes and burdens into their elected office.
There were parties galore at the convention. On Friday night, State Senator Alex Padilla of Pacoima (who is running for Secretary of State) helped host a party at the Conga Room.
Assembly Speaker John Perez of Los Angeles (who is running for Controller) threw a taco truck party outside the convention on Saturday afternoon.
There was an abundance of apple pecan bars. They were given away to small armies of young volunteers, who waved signs, handed out campaign stickers and chanted their candidates names. Ms. Betty Yee, who sits on the State Board of Equalization, had her name on the wrappers.
It was like a big time swap meet, with giveaways that are too many to mention. Most popular were t-shirts and water jugs. There were promotions about anything and everything.
While courting voters at the hotel, CA State Senator Leland Yee (who is also running for Secretary of State) and Senator Padilla, “collided” and exchanged a quick handshake on their way to caucus meetings.
Even at the onset, Chairman John Burton asked the candidates for constitutional offices to accept his decision — that its best for the Party to remain neutral in the primaries, for these statewide offices, which are maintained and were built by party unity for the General Election in 2010.
It didn’t seem fair for those,who honored the chair position, to find themselves at an unfair disadvantage with endorsements.
Perceived to be well-positioned to win (at least for now), Sen. Leland Yee respected both the party chair’s decision and those who abided by it (voting “no endorsement” before the convention) in his talking points, to keep the party united.
Convention delegates needed his message. No candidates received enough votes for endorsement.
According to a political pundit, a potential mine field were the issues of complacency among Democratic voters in November, along with fissures of critical environmental issues and the series of endorsement battles that could presage significant internal fights and could change the electoral climate, reflecting the state’s influential donors.
(Post Script: Lessons learned: Always get multiple sources for any information. Keep an open mind. Campaign coverage swings like a pendulum but has nice rituals, trappings and statures. History gets created even in three minutes — the speech that made Senator Leland Yee swing the “no endorsement” vote into its culminating approval.)