By Connie Sullivan —
This past weekend the California Democratic Party (CADEM) held its organizing convention in downtown LA. They hold two conventions in a two-year period, one is an organizing convention and one is an endorsing convention.
This was a sparsely attended (only about 2/3 of the delegates showed up) but highly spirited convention. People were very eager to meet in person again. The party scene at the hospitality suites in the evening was crowded and almost jubilant. But there’s real work that happens at the convention, too.
The main purpose of an organizing convention is to elect regional directors and caucus chairs. Additionally, at this convention we elected the party Secretary and party Controller, as vacancies in these positions occurred mid-term.
The party Secretary race was a highly contested race between interim Secretary Diana Love and challenger Gracie Torres. Love had been appointed to fill a vacancy last July, with the understanding that she would need to be elected at this convention to complete the four-year term vacated by Melahat Rafaei.
Voting was conducted electronically instead of in person, as it was done in the past. This avoided the two-hour plus line to vote in past elections, but the electronic voting was not without glitches. Most of those were worked out in the troubleshooting suite, but some people had gone home intending to vote from there and then encountered problems. They did not drive back downtown to troubleshoot the problem, understandably. This needs fixing for future elections.
Torres is a sitting water board director who is also running for Riverside County Supervisor currently. She and her activists were very visible and vocal in the hallways of the convention, while Love chose to campaign in the background. In the end Love won with 1127 votes to Torres’ 976.
The Controller’s race was a foregone conclusion with Carolyn Fowler winning with 1911over her opponent Glenn Glazer with 118. Glazer had told everyone to vote for Fowler.
Both Love and Fowler are from LA County. So, there are three Southern California officers (Chair Rusty Hicks, Secretary Love and Controller Fowler) and two Northern California officers, Vice Chairs Betty Yee and David Campos.
Six of the 22 Regional Director positions were contested. Our Region 18 race was not contested, so the new Regional Director, yours truly, didn’t have to campaign at the convention.
The other very hotly contested race was for officers of the Progressive Caucus. Caucus chairs also serve as CADEM Executive Board members. When I checked Sunday night, they were still counting ballots. Voting took place Saturday evening. The lines to vote were very long, and I’d guess hundreds voted. It’s not necessary to be a delegate to vote in a caucus race, so Democrats from all over LA descended upon the caucus to vote.
There was a truly progressive slate (calling themselves the Troublemakers slate) and a somewhat less progressive slate running. This was viewed as a coup attempt by the current caucus leaders. Judging by the enthusiasm for the Troublemakers slate, my guess is that they will win when the counting is done.
The highlight of the general session on Saturday, which is devoted to speeches from party leaders and elected officials with some very good entertainment thrown in, was the speech by former Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Our Congressman Ted Lieu also spoke to loud cheering from his district.
While they didn’t speak at the general session, US Representatives Barbara Lee, Katie Porter, and Adam Schiff also attended and hosted hospitality suites. Schiff’s was a comedy club suite, and he actually did a set. He wasn’t bad, either. Better than some of the professional comics.
I’m sure others who attended would highlight other aspects of the convention, but these are the events that stood out for me.