All posts by Shawnda Westly

This Was No Happy Accident

(Welcome to the Executive Director of the California Democratic Party, Shawnda Westly – promoted by Brian Leubitz)

I remember driving around the state with Chairman John Burton back in January of 2009, when he was “just” ex-Senate President pro Tem John Burton – an unknown quantity to most DSCC delegates.

I remember introducing his, um, entertaining and unpredictable style to activists from around the state. And I remember everything you told him needed to be done to prepare for 2010.

You asked John for tools and training.  And John asked you to show up and fight for our statewide ticket on election day.  

We faced difficult financial challenges.   We overcame them, together.  (in large part because of the non stop fundraising of our Chairman and the active DEM2010 program started by our great Controller – Hilary Crosby!)

Together, we made our victories in 2010 happen.

We cut monthly expenses by 25%.

We gave an online database to every county and showed them how to use it, we planned and executed 12 training bootcamps around the state, hired a full time bilingual Communications Director, overhauled the CDP website and increased online organizing and had monthly organizing calls with our Statewide Officers, Regional Directors, and Caucus Chairs.

For all of these things, I want to thank the dedicated CDP staff who helped create and execute all the changes the new administration laid out – with professionalism and dedication.

We built new programs to prepare for whatever challenges the Republicans might throw at us – giving donors a reason to invest and you a motivation to volunteer.

And volunteer you did.

No matter what the pundits said, we ignored them.  

From the Politico columnist who said “Boxer will lose”…

To when we were simply told “Meg Whitman will defeat Jerry Brown”…

Or, even pundits from our own party doubting our organization and will who said “I do not believe there is anything approaching a Get Out The Vote operation on the ground that is going to be up to the task.”…

Well, they were all wrong.  

From the start, the goal of the California Democratic Party in the 2010 election cycle was to deliver a higher amount of Democratic Permanent Vote By Mail (PVBM) voters to the polls than in the past.  By election day, California Democrats were able to turn out 744,448 more Democratic PVBMs in 2010 than in the last gubernatorial election of 2006.

To add further context to that number just consider the following: during the 2006 gubernatorial election, California Republicans turned in 76,477 more PVBM ballots than California Democrats did. In 2010, California Democratic PVBM voters bested Republican PVBM voters by 226,480 votes.

That’s a net swing of +302,957 Permanent Vote-by-Mail voters.

And that made the difference in the Attorney General’s race, which was decided by about 75,000 votes.

Not only that, but despite a 20% drop in overall turnout between the 2008 presidential election and the 2010 gubernatorial race, Democrats came within 93,000 votes of hitting the high benchmark of PVBM Democratic turnout reached during the historic presidential election.

As you begin to make plans to join your fellow Democratic activists in Sacramento for this year’s convention, make sure you take time to give yourself a big pat on that back.

Because our celebration this weekend didn’t happen overnight.

And it was no happy accident.  It happened because of you.

CDP Chair Burton Slams De Facto CA GOP Leader Grover Norquist

Washington, D.C. insider and anti-tax zealot Grover Norquist was recently quoted by conservative columnist Debra Saunders in the SF Chronicle as saying “I think golf and cocaine would be more constructive ways to spend one’s free time than negotiating with Democrats on spending restraint.”

I have always considered golf a good walk spoiled.  As a recovering cocaine addict, I am surprised that anyone would think that it is at all constructive to spend one’s free time using that drug.

One would think that Mr. Norquist made this comment with a straw in his hand bending over a mirror full of white powder.

This is the man the California Republican Party is taking its cues from when it comes to tackling our state’s budget crisis.

It’s no wonder California Republicans find themselves out of touch not only with California voters on the whole, but even with an increasingly smaller percentage of Californians who self-identify as Republican voters.

A recent Field Poll showed that 61% of California voters were in favor of holding a special election to vote on a package of spending cuts and temporary tax increases to balance our budget. Even 56% of California Republicans are in favor of the idea.

Instead Republican leaders in Sacramento are taking their lead from their de facto leader in Washington, D.C., Grover Norquist. This isn’t good for Californians, it isn’t good for our budget process and it isn’t even good for the Republican Party.

Californians must be trusted to exercise their right to vote – that’s how things work in a democracy. What remains of the sensible part of the Republican Party needs to speak loudly against out of touch, and out-to-lunch Republicans like Grover Norquist.