Tag Archives: John Burton

Convention Wrap-up

DarakaConvention closes out strong

by Brian Leubitz

After the parties and events closed up on Saturday night, some bleary eyed delegates strolled in on Sunday morning to see the completion of the efforts that the various committees and groups worked on over the week.

But first, I want to congratulate all of the new regional directors, especially Hene Kelly who is replacing me as Regional Director of San Francisco and San Mateo. And a hearty congratulations go out to Daraka Larimore-Hall for his election to the position of Secretary of the Party.

After a few more speeches from elected officials, labor and community leaders, and the regional director volunteer of the year awards, the party approved the slate of resolutions without much protest. Perhaps they got little fanfare at the convention, but these were some very impressive resolutions. See the full slate of this year’s resolutions here (PDF).

The resolutions included a call for Prop 13 reform, resolutions supporting the heart of CEQA, a moratorium on fracking, and many more. Here’s the crucial clause of the fracking resolution.

THEREFORE,*BE*IT*RESOLVED*that the California Democratic Party supports: 1) an immediate moratorium on fracking, with such a moratorium to remain in effect until legislation and regulations  are put in place that repeal the exception in the Safe Drinking Water Act, guarantee public health and safety, mitigate the effects on climate change, protect the environment and allow government access and testing of the chemicals used; 2) full disclosure and testing of all sites; and 3) substitution of conservation and renewable sources of energy where practical;

Of course, the resolution calling for the Supreme Court to overturn prop 8 was close to my heart, and one calling for major reform of the UC and CSU boards and governance structure could have a big impact on an area that is gaining traction.

All in all, while it may not have had the excitement of some of the conventions of the past few years, this year’s convention was a big success for the party.  

A Smooth Convention

Internal Party issues take center focus as speakers begin

by Brian Leubitz

It probably isn’t the most exciting news for those outside of the bubble here in Sacramento, but a few issues are getting some attention.

Calitics regular RL Miller was in something of a brutal race for chair of the Environmental caucus, with robocalls flying back and forth. In the end, she won the race with a fairly wide margin, as progressive activists flooded the caucus.

If you were following the Calitics twitter feed yesterday, you may have seen some photos from the very successful Take Back Red California annual dinner, including the picture at right with LA County Party Chair Eric Bauman with Former Labor Secretary Hilda Solis. Solis, who is looking at a run for LA County Supervisor, wrapped up the event with something of an inspiring speech.

Today, a parade of elected officials will regale the crowd, and the party will decide on a new secretary and the last batch of regional directors.

UPDATE: Check out the videos for some of the general session speakers.

Democrats Ready to Party, Work

Convention looks back, forward

by Brian Leubitz

By all accounts, 2012 was a fantastic year of electoral success for California Democrats. The president, legislative supermajorities, ballot measure success and much more. However, with a series of special elections and some possibly competitive races in 2014, there is much work to be done as California Democrats meet at the annual convention in Sacramento this weekend.

As for the big decisions of the weekend, there is only one contested race. Chairman John Burton and the Vice chairs, Alex Rooker and Eric Bauman, are uncontested. The race for the open seat of Secretary is between Daraka Larimore-Hall of Santa Barbara County and Carolyn Fowler of Los Angeles County. I have endorsed Daraka, an amazing grassroots and netroots activist currently serving as Chair of the Santa Barbara County Democratic Party. However, that isn’t to say that I haven’t heard great things about Carolyn Fowler. Either way, I’m sure we’ll be in good hands.

I’ll be at the convention, where in addition to tweeting up a storm, I’ll also be attending the always long and exciting Resolutions Committee, where I serve as a Co-Chair. If you have any thoughts, feel free to leave them here or tweet at me: @BrianLeubitz. I’ll also be using the hashtag #CADem13, and so should you!

Registration Numbers: GOP Continues to Dwindle

Feb. 10,2011 Feb. 10,2013
Political Party # Registered % of Total # Registered % of Total
American Independent 417,567 2.43 % 476,157 2.64 %
Americans Elect N/A  N/A 3,417 0.02 %
Democratic 7,569,581  44.04 % 7,932,373   43.93 %
Green 113,118 0.66 % 112,973 0.63 %
Libertarian 92,246 0.54 % 109,636 0.61 %
Peace and Freedom 58,470 0.34 % 61,612 0.34 %
Republican 5,307,411  30.88 % 5,225,675   28.94 %
No Party Preference 3,507,119   20.41 % 3,766,457   20.86 %
Miscellaneous 121,019 0.70 % 367,483 2.04 %
TOTAL  17,186,531 100 % 18,055,783 100 %
GOP drops nearly 2 percentage points in two years.

by Brian Leubitz

The Secretary of State’s office has released their off-year registration report, and the numbers are not good for the Republicans. Well, to be honest, most political parties don’t do well in these numbers you can check out to the right. While the bigger jump, percentage-wise, in voters declining to state their party came in the middle part of the last decade, those trends continue into this decade as well. DTS continues upward, as does the famous “Miscellaneous.”

More than a fifth of all registered voters, or 20.9 percent, declined to state a preference with any political party, reflecting a steady increase in the number of decline-to-state voters in recent years, or about 259,000 more during the past two years. In 2005, decline-to-state registration totaled 17.9 percent. (CapWeekly)

But for the GOP, the news that they have fallen below 30% can’t be anything but discordant music to the ears of new CRP Chair Jim Brulte. It only serves to put an emphasis on how far the GOP has fallen, and the big changes they’ll need to make in the state to return to relevance. Now, that is not to say that is an impossible task. Perhaps the top-2 primary system can result in a revitalized moderate wing of the California Republican Party, a wing that has been quite moribund in recent history.

In other news from the report, over a million people used the new registration website to register before the last election. That helped boost the total registration to 75.68% of all eligible voters, the highest such percentage in the past ten years or so. And with a little more time, perhaps we can hope for even higher numbers. As we make registering to vote easier, and the actual process of voting less time-consuming, let’s hope we can bring that number much higher. The more Californians vote, and express the will of the people, the better our democracy becomes.

As Brulte Eyes Local Races, Burton Pledges to Continue Support for Down Ballot Races

Will continue to foster development of so-called “farm team”

by Brian Leubitz

In case you hadn’t noticed, the Democratic Party is doing pretty well in the Legislature and our Congressional delegation.  However, the new CRP chair, Jim Brulte, is looking to start small, as you can hear in the video to the right if you care to wade through some shaky camera work and uninspiring Republican anecdotes.

John Burton, who is running for re-election to CDP chair and who worked relatively effectively with Brulte during their Leadership days in the State Senate, says that he doesn’t plan on ceding any ground:

“They’ve got to start at the bottom because they can’t elect anybody at the top,” Burton told Calbuzz. “They have to carry the burden of those fucking idiots in Washington . . . On the big picture, they’re pissing against the wind. … {but} We’re not going to abandon local races to the Republicans.” (CalBuzz)

Burton pointed to the election of San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, but there are many more examples of Democrats moving into nonpartisan offices, even in Republican areas. Brulte, if he is to have a modicum of success, must make big gains in that area. But it requires a lot of infrastructure that is really not present for the Republicans in California, infrastructure that Burton has helped to make possible for Democrats.

John Burton to run for re-election as CDP Chair

Current CDP Chair launches with broad endorsements for another term

by Brian Leubitz

CDP Chair John Burton already suffered through his “bankruptcy workout” by clearing up a tough financial situation at the CDP upon his arrival. While his task was nowhere near the mess that Jim Brulte is looking at right now, he chose and built a staff that lead the party forward towards a brighter future. (Hint: See the results in 2010 and 2012)

Now the former State Senate Majority Leader, Congressman, and a list of other titles, is announcing that he will be running for reelection as Chair of the California Democratic Party:

We’re coming off an exciting election in 2012. We exceeded our goals every step of the way, and that’s due to your activism and support of Democrats across the state.

Together, we defeated Proposition 32 the Anti-Union measure, and passed the Governor’s Proposition 30 to help our public schools. Not only that, we picked up six brand new Democratic seats in Congress and achieved a 2/3rds majority in the legislature.

I want to continue our fight for a more progressive California for another four years.

I remain committed to winning elections and speaking out on the issues and values that keep our Party in the liberal forefront of Democrats throughout the nation.

He launched a new website for the campaign with a broad list of endorsements, including one Brian Leubitz, Regional Director.  I am proud to support John because of the work that he has done not only in the infrastructure and capacity of the party, but that he has been, and will continue to be, a great leader for progressive values. When it comes to John Burton, you know where he stands. Whether it is calling for the withdrawal of troops in Afghanistan in 2009, or fighting for health care reform, he will be using his resources to push for our shared values.

I hope you will join me in supporting John Burton for another term as CDP Chair.

It’s Time for Bay Area Walmart Directors to Stand Up

The following is an Op-Ed by John L. Burton, Chairman of the California Democratic Party, Former President Pro Tempore of the California State Senate and Former Member, US House of Representatives.

The past year should have been a banner one for Walmart.  The company celebrated its 50-year anniversary and its stock reached an all-time high.  The Walton family, which largely controls the retail giant, includes four of the top 10 richest Americans and boasts a fortune of more than $115 billion.  But instead, 2012 has been a year of crisis for Walmart.    

In April, the New York Times published an expose alleging systemic bribery of government officials and a purported executive-led cover-up effort in the company’s Mexican division. The company is facing yet another gender discrimination lawsuit–on behalf of 100,000 women in California. And its supply chain has come under fire. Workers at seafood suppliers in Thailand and Louisiana went on strike to protest against slavery-like conditions, and warehouse workers who supply Walmart stores in Southern California and Chicago walked off their jobs to protest employer retaliation.

In the last month, strikes hit Walmart directly when associates in Los Angeles, Dallas and the Bay Area, to name a few places, walked off their jobs to protest retaliation against workers who spoke out about hours and pay in stores, among other issues. Last week, hundreds of Walmart associates traveled to company headquarters in Bentonville, Ark. to tell executives and Walmart chairman Rob Walton that it’s time for change.

Workers are tired of watching Walmart management retaliate against those who speak out to improve their stores.  But it shouldn’t just be Walmart Associates standing up.  Four members of the company’s board of directors are Bay area residents, and they should play leadership roles in helping a company sorely in need of change chart a new course.

The Bay Area Walmart directors include Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer; venture capitalist and Facebook board member Jim Breyer; Clinton Cabinet member Aida Alvarez; and Walton-by-marriage, Greg Penner.  They have ignored repeated efforts by Walmart workers – members of the Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OUR Walmart) – to discuss change at the company.

Instead of pretending the workers don’t exist, they should join Walmart Associates in promoting a vision of a better Walmart, where everyone is respected on the job and where Walmart jobs are good, stable ones with livable wages that support families. Walmart is the largest private employer in the world and the US, and is also the nation’s largest employer of African-Americans, Latinos and of women. If Walmart workers can change the company’s course, they will have helped catalyze a transformation of the entire American economy.      

Ms. Mayer and Mr. Bryer, as leaders in the new economy, and Ms. Alvarez, as a respected leader in the Latino community, can especially bring a fresh perspective to Walmart that helps the company find common ground with its employees instead of maintaining a decades-old strategy of confrontation. They should take a lesson from the brave Walmart associates who were in Bentonville last week and stand up for what is right, and for a better Walmart.  

No, John Burton did not compare the Republican Party to Nazis

If you look at the headlines from today’s opening breakfast for the California delegation here at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, you’ll be confronted with headlines breathlessly claiming that California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton compared Republicans to Nazis.

That’s nice headline fodder and all, except it’s not true. Here’s the actual quote from Burton:

“They lie and they don’t care if people think they lie. …Joseph Goebbels it’s the big lie, you keep repeating it,” Burton said Monday before the Blake Hotel breakfast. He said Ryan told “a bold-faced lie and he doesn’t care that it was a lie. That was Goebbels, the big lie.”

Without actually delving into the headline behind the quote, you’d think that Burton claimed that the Republican Party has an ideology relevantly similar to that of the National Socialists. He didn’t. Instead, he made reference to the method of propaganda and deceit made most famous by, yes, Joseph Goebbels: that it doesn’t matter how big the lie is, as long as it gets repeated over and over without shame. And eventually, goes the strategy, you can convince people to believe your big lie.

If that sounds familiar, it’s because the Romney campaign, and the Republican Party in general, is using that exact strategy. The Romney/Ryan ticket is repeating bald-faced lies over and over again in the assumption that through muddying the waters enough, they can make truth a casualty of politics. They are doing this with the big lie that Obama gutted welfare-to-work programs. Ryan lied to the world publicly when he insinuated that Obama was responsible for the closure of the manufacturing plant that closed in the Bush administration. And most egregiously, the same people who want to gut Medicare and turn it into a privatized, premium-support voucher program are the ones falsely accusing Obama of cutting Medicare by $716 billion.

If the Republican ticket were not so absolutely insistent on telling their big lies, perhaps comparing their strategy to the person who made the big lie famous would not be so apt. Did Chairman Burton say that the Republicans are Nazis? No. Did he say that they’re shameless propagandists who have no problem lying to the world? Absolutely. And on that, Romney and Ryan are guilty as charged.

UPDATE: Burton has issued a statement:

“To correct press reports of my recent comments about Republican lies, I did not call Republicans Nazis nor would I ever. In fact, I didn’t even use the word.


If Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, or the Republicans are insulted by my describing their campaign tactic as the big lie – I most humbly apologize to them or anyone who might have been offended by that comment.”

My suggestion would be…if you’re offended by people calling you a liar, stop lying.

Our Initiative Process: It’s F&$*$D

The Daily Show takes on California’s initiative system

by Brian Leubitz

I’m not going to surprise anybody on this blog when I say that the initiative process is well and truly screwed.  It leaves us with the people voting on a minority’s rights, voting for contradictory measures, and a wealth of confusion.  But with the Daily Show taking aim at the mess that is now, unfortunately, Hiram Johnson’s legacy, perhaps the word will get out a bit more broadly.

John Burton, who can make many a sailor blush, surprises even the Daily Show’s John Oliver with both his language and his feeling about the initiative system.  As Chairman Burton puts it: “It’s It’s F&$*$D.”  And a quick note to our esteemed leader, we’re not boycotting Amazon anymore. In fact, you can buy one of the exciting Kindle Fire devices and I get a referral fee.  Of course, if you’d prefer to shop at a store that hasn’t tried to skirt sales taxes for several years, you can shop at Barnes and Noble and get one of their competing Nook tablets. Oooh, exciting, either way, you’re helping out Calitics.

Back to the video, MinuteMan crazy dude (and Assemblyman) Tim Donnelly is also featured. But I’ll just let you get to that on your own…

Prop 14 and Party Endorsements

So-called “Top 2” primary makes intraparty general elections possible

by Brian Leubitz

The top-2 primary system yields some strange results.  You could end up with two members of the same party.  Or you could end up with a non-major party candidate in the top 2.  Both of these situations lead to some uncomfortable questions for the party.  Under the current rules, party entities are not allowed to endorse non-democrats.  However, if there are no Democrats in the general election, what then?  CDP Chair John Burton just released an email about his take on the “top 2” primary system and independents.  

What are we to do if a “Decline-to-State” supports the issues we do and shares our values as Democrats? I personally know several people who became “Decline-to-State” in opposition to Iraq and Afghanistan, but favor environmental protection, gay rights, and other progressive issues. If local Democrats are presented with a dilemma of a progressive declined-to-state vs. a reactionary Republican in the run off election, I believe the local delegates should have the option of whether to endorse.

The July Executive Board meeting happening next weekend will deal with these issues.  The changes proposed by the CDP Rules committee can be found here (PDF. In short, the rules changes allow a DTS voter to apply to get an endorsement where there are no Democrats on the ballot.

Take a look at the changes, there is a lot to think about.  I’m pretty inclined to support this, but I’d like to hear others’ thoughts. Full email over the flip.

Dear Brian:

One of the issues before our Executive Board later this month deals with how the Party handles endorsements in a post-Prop 14 (Top-Two Primary) world.

One of the items we grappled with in this process is what to do with regard to endorsements if no Democrat makes the run off.

What are we to do if a “Decline-to-State” supports the issues we do and shares our values as Democrats? I personally know several people who became “Decline-to-State” in opposition to Iraq and Afghanistan, but favor environmental protection, gay rights, and other progressive issues. If local Democrats are presented with a dilemma of a progressive declined-to-state vs. a reactionary Republican in the run off election, I believe the local delegates should have the option of whether to endorse.

It is far fetched, but a possibility, that a Senator Bernie Sanders type of decline-to-state candidate could be running against a Wally Herger or Tom McClintock in the run off. Should the locals not be given the option to decide to endorse or not endorse the “DTS” candidate? Some say that it would be just as effective to say that we oppose right-wing Republicans. I personally disagree. I don’t think you can beat somebody with nobody.

I truly believe that it is in the best interest of the principles we believe in as Democrats to at least have the option of deciding in those rare instances when a progressive DTS is running against a reactionary Republican.

I look forward to finalizing this matter in Anaheim on the weekend of July 29-31. If you have any questions, feel free to call on me.

Peace and friendship,