- By Jerry Roberts and Philip J. Trounstine
California Gold Rush for Dem Wannabes
(Editor's note: This weekend's California Democratic Party convention in San Francisco has attracted more than a dozen presidential hopefuls, along with political media from around the nation and thousands of delegates and activists from throughout California. This piece about the convention first appeared on Calbuzz, our statewide alter ego).
The Calbuzz “How Can You Miss Us if We Won’t Go Away” Reunion Tour will roll into San Francisco this weekend, along with every Democrat in the Northern Hemisphere, half of whom are running for president.
At least fourteen – 14, count ‘em, 14 – presidential wannabes are scheduled to hit the stage at the California Democratic Party convention, as 3,400 delegates, a few thousand more grassrooters, consultants, media blowhards and a handful of Actual Political Reporters flood the zone around the Moscone Center, careful to step around the dung and discarded hypos.
Their goal: rustle up stamp-lickers, canvassers, phone-dialers, fund-raisers and foot soldiers to support their quest for California Gold: some portion of the 495 delegates – more than Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina combined -- up for grabs in California’s March 3 primary next year.
About the only big D Dem not making the scene is presidential front-runner Joe Biden, the former Veep. He has opted to skip the spectacle of his candidate colleagues toadying to the left-wing collection of CTA and SEIU hacks, hobby horse Marxists and millennial anarcho-syndicalists who comprise the party’s 58 county delegations and who bear as much resemblance to California’s 8.6 million registered Democrats as unicorns to plow-horses.
We’re a bit teary that Joe won’t be here this weekend: At least half of us were there at the 1988 California Democratic Party convention in Sacramento (and reported it later) when Biden “borrowed” eloquent portions of the late Bobby Kennedy’s speeches without attribution, contributing to his withdrawl from the presidential campaign that year. We were hoping he’d get a re-do in front of the CA Dems.
Nevertheless, your Calbuzz Geezers have bravely bestirred themselves from the links and endless rounds of Pie Face with the grandspawn to tell you all you need to know about the big event, which will focus on these key questions:
Will Biden pay a price for skipping? Leading in all the polls and persuasively offering himself as the party’s best bet to knock off President Cheeto Face, Biden is taking a pass on the convention, choosing to headline a big LGBTQ event in Ohio instead of joining the lineup of longshots, no-hopers and self-regarding narcissists begging the lefties for support by promising organic risotto in every pot and voting rights for terrorists.
Some Beltway Geniuses no doubt will churn out predictable drek that quotes the grumbles of some disgruntled delegate from Palo Alto or Santa Monica that fits under a “Biden Blows Off California” headline. But when the next LA Times poll comes out, the state party’s confab will prove to have been about as important as last year’s endorsement of Kevin de Leon over Dianne Feinstein for U.S. Senate.
Actual Polling Data, like the most recent Monmouth Poll, shows that Biden is leading in every demoin every demographic – women and men, whites and non-whites, older and younger voters and one-eyed, left-handed Basques from Fresno.
For the record, the closest thing we could get from a Biden campaign insider about whether the candidate’s no-show means he’s abandoning hope here was from Biden fund-raiser Steve Westly, the former California State Controller, who said, “I promise you, Vice President Biden is not conceding California to anyone.”
Will Kamala take a position on anything? “Why is Kamala Harris Running for President?” Politico headlined the other day, above a piece by our old friend Chris Cadelago, who’s covering the California Junior Senator’s bewildering campaign for president.
We have no doubt that brilliant consultant Ace Smith and his crew will have the convention wired as a Kamala pep rally, but as always with her, it will be far more sizzle than steak. As we’ve noted, in a blindingly insightful perceptual scoop that since has been reprised by virtually every national political outfit, Harris has never demonstrated an iota of evidence that she has an authentic core of political values and principles beyond her own self-important and boundless personal ambition.
Portraying herself as a “progressive prosecutor” has gotten her in trouble with the hard-left wingers who reject that whole notion of crime and punishment, but the real problem for Democrats would be if she were to win the nomination and Trump and his henchman peel the bark off her pathetic record as San Francisco’s DA and succeed in defining her as a Mike Dukakis clone.
Will Willie lay off the Kamala jokes? Political icon Willie Brown is listed as the lead-off speaker for Saturday’s general session, and we’ll be listening closely to hear if the erstwhile Ayatollah cracks wise about his long-ago affaire de coeur with Harris, which was the launch pad for her political career.
Harris’s handlers have managed to shush up this plain fact, known to anyone who actually was around at the time, by labeling anyone who points it out as a sexist pig. But that didn’t stop Willie Himself from shouting attention to it when Kamala kicked off her presidential campaign with a great line: “We had a perfect relationship,” he said, “She was in love with me and so was I.”
Will Nancy Get Booed? It's her hometown. She's the Speaker of the House of Representatives. She's an icon in California politics and the best Trump Whisperer in DC. But he's also a holdout on whether the Democrats should just admit Trump is an outlaw and take up an impeachment bill against the president. She prefers bleeding him to death with investigations and court rulings, denying him a single point of counter-attack and wiping him out by election in 2020.
So when she addresses the General Assembly of the CDP on Saturday morning she'll be standing in front of thousands of left-liberal delegates who, we suspect, are in the Hang Him High Caucus. This is a crowd that doesn't hesitate to jeer even the most revered political figures (see: Feinstein, D.). If she lays out her strategy -- and maybe she won't -- we won't be surprised if she gets blowback from the assembled lefties who couldn't care less about how that will play on Fox News or even on MSNBC.
Will this be John Hickenlooper’s breakthrough moment? The former governor of Colorado, relegated to the Saturday afternoon speaker lineup, is among the least-known of the 14, um, contenders who will be on the scene and, like all of the others, dearly hopes he can say or something that will break through the noise and draw the attention of the 87 gazillion reporters in the hall talking to each other about dinner reservations.
We’re hoping Hickenlooper succeeds, if only because we like saying his name, but his chances remain slim, as name brands like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and Harris suck up all the oxygen. (FYI, the East Bay’s Eric Swalwell – who is, well, swell but has no business running for president – is on the card, too. If he’s gonna leave Congress, which he shouldn’t, we like him for U.S. Attorney for Northern California.)
Can Daraka capture the chair? The B-card battle of the weekend is the fight for the chairmanship of the party, left vacant when ex-chair Eric Bauman was forced to resign in disgrace amid a very nasty sexual harassment scandal.
With seven candidates running, only three – Bay Area activist Kimberly Ellis, LA labor chief Rusty Hicks and CDP vice chair Daraka Larimore-Hall – are given much of a chance by the bookies in the Saturday balloting; the winner needs 50 percent plus one of the delegate votes, however, so a Sunday runoff between the top two finishers is likely. (As thoroughbred access whores, we kinda like Daraka, a rude, brusque committed progressive, mostly because he lives in the same neighborhood as at least half of us.)
Images: Official Calbuzzer button; Joe Biden; Kamala Harris; Willie Brown; Nancy Pelosi; Daraka Larimore Hall (Paul Wellman/Independent).