Tag Archives: Take Back Red California

Growing Our Democratic Majority in the House

House Dems could pick up 20 or more seats this year, building on remarkable successes winning three special elections this year in long-held Repub districts:  Mississippi Travis Childers (54%) beat Greg Davis (46%) in a district Bush carried with 63% in 2004; Louisiana Donald J. Cazayoux Jr. (49%) beat Woody Jenkins (46%) in a 2004 59% Bush district; Illinois Bill Foster (52%) beat Jim Oberweis (48%) in a 2004 55% Bush district held by former Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert for 21 years.

The San Francisco Bay Area’s nearest competitive Congressional races include Congressman Jerry McNerney (CA-11), a top target of the Repubs, and Dem challengers Charlie Brown (CA-4), Bill Durston (CA-3) and Jill Derby (NV-2). You can meet and support them all at a Sunday June 1 Champagne Brunch Reception, details at http://www.democracyaction.org…

• Congressman Jerry McNerney knocked off Environmental Enemy #1 Richard Pombo in 2006, brings renewable energy expertise to the House and constituent services to his district, and now faces former State Assemblyman, former State Board of Equalization conservative Dean Andal.

• Lt. Colonel Charlie Brown (USAF-retired), a decorated Vietnam veteran with a son serving multiple tours of duty in Iraq, and a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) Red to Blue Candidate, nearly beat (2006 49%-46%)and subsequently drove out corrupt incumbent John Doolittle (R), and now likely faces opportunistic ultra-conservative Tom McClintock, a Southern California carpetbagger.

• Dr. Bill Durston, former Vietnam Marine platoon leader and now emergency room physician, has been endorsed by Progressive Democrats of America and faces Dan Lungren, a Bush lock-step voter, in a district that now has the smallest Republican advantage of any GOP-held California Congressional District.

• Jill Derby, born on the Flying Flapjack Ranch and running to bring Nevada values to Congress – independence and straight talk – has a rematch (2006 50%-45%) with first-termer Dean Heller after her year as Nevada Democratic Party Chair registering 30,000 new Dems in this critical Swing State – her voters will be Presidential voters in this critical election year.

Overall, Dems have 33 House seats in potential jeopardy (6 toss-ups), and the Repubs 43 (13 toss-ups), per the Cook Political Report http://www.cookpolitical.com/r… The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza also ranked House races at http://blog.washingtonpost.com…

Resolution to Fund EVERY Democratic Legislative Challenger

(It’s hard living in a “red district”. Hopefully, this will make things easier for our great blue candidates here. : ) – promoted by atdleft)

I have read all of your thoughtful comments and I think a little background information would be helpful.  Especially for our brothers and sisters from more comfortable “Blue” districts who may not know what its really like campaigning in the “Scarlet Districts”.

I live in the 77th Assembly District, 52nd Congressional and the 36th State Senatorial District.  Duncan Hunter is our Congressman, Joel Anderson in the Assembly and Dennis Hollingsworth in the State Senate.  Gives you a little idea of what we are up against.

I have read all of your thoughtful comments and I think a little background information would be helpful.  Especially for our brothers and sisters from more comfortable “Blue” districts who may not know what it’s really like campaigning in the “Scarlet Districts”.

I live in the 77th Assembly District, 52nd Congressional and the 36th State Senatorial District.  Duncan Hunter is our Congressman, Joel Anderson in the Assembly and Dennis Hollingsworth in the State Senate.  Gives you a little idea of what we are up against.

None of our candidates got one single penny from the CDP.  There are over 120,000 Democrats living here and 165,000 Republicans.  But you wouldn’t know there were any Democrats at all.  Out of 52 elective offices here from dogcatcher to congress there are 4 Democrats.  All four on various school boards.  The superintendent of the Grossmont High School District was Ron Nehring, now elevated to Chair the State Republican Party.  Ron is a protégé of Grover Norquist.  He tried privatizing nearly everything having to do with our schools.  He even tried to turn them all into Charter schools as a step towards total privatization.  Don’t believe it?  Check out the Center for Policy Initiatives report titled “Target San Diego” at www.onlinecpi.org .

We are basically being used as an incubator for radical right wing experiments. 

Now get the picture.  That is what happens when a district is totally abandoned by the party.

And it’s not for lack of a good candidate.  We have had several.  Mark Hanson for instance was twice Teacher of the Year, a popular Labor leader and Chairman of the Heartland Foundation which created jobs and provided training for thousands.

Mark ran for State Senate seat 36 against the most egregious right wing extremist in the State Senate, Dennis Hollingsworth. 

We had a defining issue.  The Cedar Fire devastated a huge swatch of our district including Mark’s home.  He literally barely made it out alive with his family in the middle of the night.  Calling his neighbors on his cell phone as they drove just ahead of the 3000 degree fire and 60 mph winds.  Many of his neighbors weren’t as lucky, the tires melted off their cars on their way out. 

Dennis Hollingsworth voted with the insurance companies making it more difficult for survivors to rebuild their lives and homes.

Through the Heartland Foundation Mark help hundreds of fire survivors and their families make a new start. 

Mark hired a professional Staff.  Including a former Clinton White House staffer.

Mark raised over $100,000.  With 12 bound copies of his campaign “Plan for Victory” supported by two poles that showed he could win – Mark went to Sacramento to ask for help from the California Democratic Party. 

He got zilch.  Nada. Odo blitz. Zero.  Nothing.

What did Dennis Hollingworth do?  He raised nearly a million dollars and shared it with down ticket Republicans to shore up support in his District.

And Mark is not alone.  His story was repeated in nearly all 40 Legislative Districts where a Democrat ran against an incumbent Republican. 

Roxana Folescu, a thoughtful and intelligent woman with a powerful message, raised $5,000 for the general election in the 74th Assembly District and garnered 42% of the vote.  In spite of her pleading – Roxana did not get one thin dime from the California Democratic Party.

Chris Larkin, a fantastic candidate with all-American good looks, ran twice in the 77th Assembly District.  Both times he personally walked more than 25 precincts.  Wore out three pairs of shoes.  He got respectable results both times and never got a dime from the State Party.  Chris won’t run again.

By contrast Maxine Sherrod was given 1.4 million dollars to run in the 78th Assembly District, rich in Democratic voters.  Her consultant made a fortune flooding mailboxes with glossy mailers and dopey TV ads.  She lost.  At one point in her campaign, at a chance meeting, she told me she had more money than she knew what to do with. 

It was with this background of experiences that my friends and I wrote our
All District Strategy for Funding California Legislative Races.

Resolutions are supposed to be expressions of “philosophical beliefs and principles”. 

Well, nothing could express our belief in fairness and democracy more than our Resolution.  And by specifying certain minimum amounts of money for the work of growing the party everywhere we are pointing the way to fulfill our moral responsibility

Our Democratic representatives in Congress and the State Capitol pound the podiums and insist that budget priorities ARE an expression of our morals and values. 

This is a declaration of our values and ethical standards.  Our policy should now and always be – to grow the party in every district in every county in every part of the State.  It is wrong and a betrayal of our Democratic values to abandon any district. 

The words in the Resolution were carefully chosen.  When it says, “shall receive at least $50,000” that minimum is an expression of value.  Not an exact amount.  I know I know its splitting hairs.  We toyed with the idea of saying “shall receive some amount of money” or even “shall receive for example $50,000”. 

But by setting a minimum value we are expressing our belief that our Party and our candidates are worth this much to us.  A substantial amount to be sure.  But how can we ask anyone to run for an office to represent us in this Democracy if we don’t value them? 

We are not attempting to circumvent or modify the CDP bylaws with our Resolution either as some have contended.  The purpose of the CDP is to grow the Party and elect Democrats.  And that is exactly what our Resolution does.

And please don’t overlook the fact that the use of this money is regulated.  It is to be used in a traditional grassroots and GOTV effort and not by throwing money at Political consultants to buy TV, radio or direct mail advertising.  But instead, going directly to the voters.

Howard Dean said –  “Election by election, state by state, precinct by precinct, door by door, vote by vote… we’re going to lift our Party up and take this country back for the people who built it.”

We have a real advantage here in San Diego County.  We have what we call the GO-Team.  A county wide infrastructure if you will.  And a very good one.  This should be a statewide standard.  But some districts will have to create one or expand the one they have, some district have an enormous need for registering voters.  Some will need an office and phone banks.  Ralph Miller’s Audit Resolution will set in place locals to determine the needs of the community and hold the Party accountable.

Do we support the “All 58 County Strategy Resolution” written by my friend Denise Hardin from Riverside?  Of course we do.  These are the kind of things the Party should have been doing all along.  The CDP bylaws section 2 line 28 says the State Party, “. . . .  shall conduct Campaigns for the party and its candidates for public office.” 

And finally, in spite of the cheering, backslapping and congratulating at the convention let me emphasize that California IS turning “RED”. 

In 1992 there were 45 counties with a Democratic voter registration advantage and only 22 in 2006.  Democratic voter turnout is also on the decline.

Our Resolution strikes at the very heart of the problem by substantially funding every endorsed Democratic Challenger running against an incumbent Republican or for an open seat.  Using the 4 million dollars left over after the last election cycle as a minimum amount we stop the hemorrhaging and take the Republicans head on.

Those of you who are delegates who wish to help or want more information we will be meeting at the Outdoor Amphitheatre of the Convention Center starting at 10:00 am Friday morning.  Look for the scarlet armbands.

I look forward to welcoming you all to America’s Finest City – San Diego.

Finally, An All District Strategy for California Democrats

Let’s face it. California is not as strongly Democratic as we think it is, or as we’d like it to be. Right now our state is a “blue state”, but it is fast turning RED. In 1992, Bill Clinton won 36 California counties when he first ran for President. In 2004, John Kerry only won 22 California counties. In the past six years, Democrats have only picked up ONE CONGRESSIONAL SEAT from the Republicans… And Democrats have actually LOST SEATS IN THE STATE LEGISLATURE during that same period!

So what can we do about it? Well, if you’re a delegate to the State Democratic Convention in San Diego this weekend, then you can find out what to do after the flip…

Leon Thompson, the Executive Board representative from the 77th Assembly District, has written a resolution to be voted on at the convention. Now we’ve heard all this talk about a “58 county strategy” to make Democrats more competitive throughout the state, but what will it actually do? Leon’s resolution actually has some teeth in it, as it requires the state party to give some seed money to EVERY PARTY-ENDORSED LEGISLATIVE CANDIDATE in the general election. This resolution will actually direct the party to refocus resources to grassroots campaigns in “red districts”. This resolution actually gives a boost to those Democratic candidates in “red districts” who fight hard for our Democratic values, but who may not have enough funds to really get the message out throughout the district. This resolution actually does something to make our party more competitive statewide, and more importantly it offers more than just pretty language and empty rhetoric…
It offers real action.

This may not be the ultimate solution, but it is a good start. And it’s something we really need to start doing a better job at. After all, if the Democratic candidates can’t depend on their own party for at least some support, then what’s the point of having a Democratic Party?

The full text of the resolution is directly below, and can be found here.

All District Strategy for Funding California Legislative Races

Whereas the recent Democratic takeover of Congress has proven the effectiveness of Howard Dean’s 50 state strategy for funding the Democratic Party in every state regardless of the voter registration advantage to the other side or the history of Republican voting patterns and resulted in election victories and Democratic Party advances and

Whereas the California Democratic Party’s recent election funding decisions resulted in only modest advances and victories not on the scale of results nationally, and

Whereas providing resources for candidates in each legislative district will build the Party’s identity in every geographical area, develop a deep reserve of competitive Democratic candidates and encourage volunteer loyalty,

Be it resolved that the California Democratic Party shall adopt at its 2007 Convention to allocate at least $4 million to be spent in all Assembly and State Senate districts that are open seats or in which there is a Democratic challenger to a Republican incumbent, to assure that every endorsed Democratic candidate for the state legislature gets at least some funding for the general election, enabling candidates to mount a viable campaign, then

Be it resolved that for the general election, each party-endorsed Democratic challenger or party-endorsed Democratic candidate for an open legislative seat shall receive at least $50,000 in seed money, and that candidates who raise $50,000, produce a field plan, and sign up 50 volunteers or more shall received at least $50,000 in additional matching funds. The money shall be spent to implement a grassroots organizing and GOTV effort by the candidate. Evidence of volunteer sincerity will be a five dollar check to the candidate.

This policy will spread the Democratic message to voters in every part of California, thus helping to grow the Party and get out the vote even in conservative regions. This strategy will improve the chances of victory not only for those legislative seats funded, but for all Democratic candidates in California – including “down-ticket” candidates for local offices as well as candidates running for statewide and national offices.

Submitted by Leon Thompson

77th Assembly District E-board Representative