Saturday, April 25, 2009

California Democrats in Disarray! -- UPDATE

As I write this the California State Democratic is in convention in Sacramento and the dominant political party in this so-called big "Blue" state are in disarray over the budget debate, the upcoming special elections and next years wide-open governor's race. As the Sacramento Bee correctly observed:


The California Democratic Party didn't expect such troubles. Not with Barack Obama winning California in November by the biggest margin by a Democrat since FDR in 1936. Not with state Republicans turning on one another in a circular firing squad.


On Sunday, the Dems are scheduled to vote on whether or not to endorse the special election budget initiatives. Most of the state's legislative leadership favors passage, but the leading candidates for governor and the powerful unions, that provide most of the grassroots for California's otherwise pathetically feeble Democratic field organization are divided. Phil Giarrizzo, a Democratic consultant and former union leader who helped organize the campaign to defeat Governor Schwarzenegger's 2005 power grab, told the Bee: "If the administration's goal was to break up the coalition that defeated them in 2005, they couldn't have done it better."

* * * UPDATE * * *
Los Angeles Times, April 26, 2009
State Democrats Decline to Endorse 3 of 6 Ballot Measures

Quote of the from San Francisco State Assemblyman Tom Ammiano on the State Democratic Convention:

"The dysfunctional meets the disenfranchised."

Can the California Green Party, the largest and one of the strongest state Green Parties, rise to the challenge and capitalize on the Dems' disarray in 2010?




San Diego Union-Tribune, Friday, April 24, 2009
Democratic Leader Seeks Unity Amid Budget Angst
by Judy Lin


SACRAMENTO — The leader of the California Democratic Party on Friday urged unity in the face of divisive budget-related questions facing voters next month, reasoning that resolving the state's financial crisis will help Democratic candidates for office next year.

Party Chairman Art Torres, who is retiring after 13 years at the party's helm, said the party will not oppose any of the six propositions on the May 19 special election ballot. That stance will draw a clear distinction with the state GOP, which voted last weekend to oppose all of them.

In trying to avoid a fracture during its annual convention this weekend in Sacramento, Torres said the party could remain neutral on some of the propositions. The party needs to make its best case to voters if it wants to wrest the governor's seat back from Republicans in 2010, as well as defend U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer's re-election bid, he said.

A fight that divides the party internally over how best to deal with California's budget problems will not help, he said.

. . .

SACRAMENTO — The leader of the California Democratic Party on Friday urged unity in the face of divisive budget-related questions facing voters next month, reasoning that resolving the state's financial crisis will help Democratic candidates for office next year.

Party Chairman Art Torres, who is retiring after 13 years at the party's helm, said the party will not oppose any of the six propositions on the May 19 special election ballot. That stance will draw a clear distinction with the state GOP, which voted last weekend to oppose all of them.

In trying to avoid a fracture during its annual convention this weekend in Sacramento, Torres said the party could remain neutral on some of the propositions. The party needs to make its best case to voters if it wants to wrest the governor's seat back from Republicans in 2010, as well as defend U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer's re-election bid, he said.

A fight that divides the party internally over how best to deal with California's budget problems will not help, he said.

. . .

California's ongoing financial challenges and the higher taxes already implemented under this year's budget agreement are shaping as a 2010 campaign theme. Two of the leading Republican candidates for governor, former eBay chief executive Meg Whitman and state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, oppose the tax increases.

"Everyone knows that the state's higher taxes and burdensome regulatory structure directly contribute to California's below-average economic performance," California GOP Chairman Ron Nehring said Friday. "And you'll see in 2010 a competition between Republican solutions versus higher taxes and more of the same from Democrats, regardless of the nominees."

The California Teachers Association, among the most well-funded of the state's interest groups, has endorsed all six propositions. That includes Proposition 1B, which would repay schools more than $9 billion.
. . .

Angst over the budget issues comes as the state's Democrats are riding high from a surge in voter registration and a strong lineup of gubernatorial hopefuls.

Two of the potential gubernatorial candidates, Attorney General Jerry Brown and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, are supporting the full package of ballot measures.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who announced his formal bid earlier this week, said he reluctantly supports propositions 1A and 1B, but opposes the other measures.
. . .


* * *

San Francisco Chronicle, Saturday, April 25, 2009
Jerry Brown Back on Top After Scorning Dems
by Carla Marinucci


State Attorney General Jerry Brown enters the state Democratic convention today favored to be the party's next candidate for governor - but the irony of that development is not lost on Democrats who remember when Brown quit the party a decade ago after sharply criticizing Democratic leaders before the very same audience.

. . .

And he has taken a far more conciliatory tone with his party in recent years than the Jerry Brown who addressed the 1996 Democratic state convention.

"People were stunned; you could have heard a pin drop," said Roberta Lewis, a Democratic central committee delegate from Woodland Hills (Los Angeles County), who remembers how Brown, during what was intended as a tribute to his late father, Gov. Edmund G. "Pat" Brown, raised eyebrows by lambasting party leadership.

At the podium, Brown was sharply critical of President Bill Clinton and U.S. Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein over their support of what he called a "fascistic" and "phony" anti-terrorism bill.

"He was entitled to his opinion, but he wasn't entitled to lecture us and storm off," said Lewis, who was so upset at Brown's attack that "I turned my back to him" in protest as he left the hall.

Less than two years later, Brown left the Democratic Party - and would later admit to voting for Ralph Nader for president in 2000.


* * *

San Jose Mercury News, April 26, 2009
Gavin Newsom's Flaw? He's Smug
by Scott Herhold

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom's announcement last week that he was running for governor had all the trappings of a generational shift — simultaneous declarations on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, an appeal to "fresh, innovative solutions," a not-so-subtle riff on the message President Barack Obama employed on the campaign trail in 2008.

If you think politics is just about the "how" or the "what" of a message, however, you make a mistake. It's primarily about the "who.'' After viewing his YouTube broadcast (www.youtube.com/watch?v=BH0jnyuJ1Tg) a dozen times, I think Newsom has done us a favor in helping guide our votes: He's shown himself to be smug.

. . .

By this, I don't mean to say I disagree with Newsom's message. God knows the state of California is in a world of hurt. I have no problem with a platform of green jobs, preventive health care and equality for everyone (read: gay marriage).

You could argue that Newsom's claims that San Francisco has a "sound fiscal policy" are overblown in the face of the city's pending $438 million deficit. But I'll leave that to his opponents. To me, the language falls within the bounds of acceptable political hyperbole.

. . .

It wasn't Newsom's ideas that bothered me. It was the tone of his YouTube broadcast, the dismissive shake of the head. The smugness started from the beginning, with testimonials to the city's good works from people in Spanish, Chinese and English.

"Well, there's no stronger way for me to say it myself," Newsom breaks in. "I'm a candidate for governor of California because I know we can do better."

The implication: We're cooler than you are. We're younger, hipper, smarter. . .


* * * UPDATE * * *

Los Angeles Times, April 26, 2009
State Democrats Decline to Endorse 3 of 6 Ballot Measures
by Michael Finnegan


Reporting from Sacramento — Efforts by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders to win voter approval of six budget measures on the May 19 ballot grew more difficult Sunday when a sharply split state Democratic Party declined to back three of them.

The mixed verdict by more than 1,200 delegates to a state party convention came after a nasty floor fight over the grim menu of proposed solutions to California's severe budget crisis.

"We've got all kinds of divisions," Art Pulaski, leader of the California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO, said of the fractures among unions that drove the party's internal rift. "It's not unusual for us."

Republicans, too, are split on Propositions 1A through 1F. The state Republican Party has broken with Schwarzenegger, its standard-bearer, and begun fighting the measures.

Taken together, the muddled messages from California's two major parties threaten to fuel the sort of voter confusion that often spells doom for complicated ballot measures.

The propositions stem from a byzantine deal that lawmakers struck with Schwarzenegger in February to break the political impasse over closing a $42-billion budget shortfall that put California on the brink of insolvency.

On Sunday, the Democrats rejected recommendations from their party's legislative leaders to support Propositions 1A, 1D and 1E, staying neutral instead. The party endorsed Propositions 1B, 1C and 1F.

Proposition 1A, the most contentious among Democrats, would create a state spending cap and rainy-day reserve -- steps pushed by Republicans -- while extending billions in new tax increases for up to two years.

"Help us get to the other side of this crisis," state Senate leader Darrell Steinberg of Sacramento, one of the plan's brokers, urged fellow Democrats. "Help us to get to a place where we can reinvest in education and healthcare."

Extending the tax hikes would produce $16 billion for future budgets, he said, and a companion measure, Proposition 1B, would restore $9.3 billion in school cuts starting in 2011. Proposition 1B, backed by the powerful California Teachers Assn., will take effect only if 1A passes.

But Willie L. Pelote Sr., political and legislative director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees' California chapter, countered Steinberg by bellowing across the vast convention hall that the party must "stand against Republican tyranny" by voting down Proposition 1A.

"Proposition 1A is the most dangerous thing I've ever seen," hollered Pelote, who represents thousands of public employees who fear that a spending cap would put their jobs in jeopardy.

Both sides wielded teachers to beseech delegates to vote their way on 1A, lest classrooms face devastating cuts. Both also argued that their opponents were playing into Republican hands.

When the delegate vote on 1A fell just shy of the 60% needed for an endorsement, Steinberg, improbably, said he was happy with the result. "I consider it a convincing victory," he said of the loss.

More heated exchanges took place over Propositions 1D, which would free for other purposes more than $600 million now dedicated to children's programs, and 1E, which would do the same with more than $225 million in mental health care money.

Assemblyman Wesley Chesbro of Arcata said the mental health programs were worthwhile. But when voters approved Proposition 63, the 2004 measure that raised income taxes on the wealthy to pay for the programs, they did not anticipate "the worst budget crisis in the history of the state since the Great Depression," he said.

An emotional retort came from Anne Zerrien-Lee, a Highland Park teacher who said her 39-year-old son was schizophrenic. She told delegates that Proposition 1E would "kill people who are now receiving treatment."

"My baby is a flesh and blood baby," she said. "And I don't want him thrown under the train."

Of the measures that won the party's support, 1C would borrow $5 billion against future lottery revenue to generate quick cash to narrow the budget gap, and 1F would deny lawmakers and statewide elected officials pay raises in years when the state is running a deficit.


2 comments:

Dave said...

Thanks for this post, Alex. Now is definitely the right time to start recruiting candidates and laying the groundwork for some strong Green campaigns in 2010.

Do you know of anyone who's planning to run?

Wes said...

Dave,
How about Lisa Green? She has already announced, set up committee for State Assembly in 2010. "I filed the Form 501 declaring myself as a candidate for the 53rd Assembly District of California for the 2010 election."The 53rd AD is all in LA County.