Friday, April 24, 2009

Conventional Wisdom

This weekend I'm in Sacramento for the California Democratic Party Convention. As a delegate for the 53d AD, I'll have an up close and personal look at how the sausage is made here in our state's capitol (it's a sacrifice I make so you don't have to......)

This promises to be an interesting convention this year. For one thing, we're still dealing with the state's craptacular budget mess. In a stunning moment of clarity, future chair of the CDP John Burton, who took a pass on giving his specific voting choices for May 19, uttered this classic quip:

Pressed on the question of whether his lifelong bleeding heart liberalism would allow him to back some of the permanent budget cuts that would result if Prop. 1A is passed, Mr. Almost Chairman responded with a classic Burtonism:

"I think when it's all over, the ones getting fucked will be the poor people."

I couldn't have said it better myself. Can't wait to hear the acceptance speech.

Then there's the petition my friend, Dave Dayen will be bringing to the Resolutions Committee, urging the Party to support the resolution to impeach federal Judge Jay Bybee, who sits on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals despite having been one of the architects of the flawed legal justification for torture committed in our name. Here's Dave:

If we get this resolution passed, we will have a powerful tool to force California members of Congress to initiate hearings in the House Judiciary Committee to impeach Bybee. I think it's absolutely possible that we make this happen over the weekend - but the leadership of the CDP needs to know that there's a large and powerful constituency behind this effort.

And of course, there's the governor's race, which just kicked into high gear with Gavin Newsom's announcement he's officially running. There will be lots of high profile gubernatorial events this weekend - Jerry Brown is throwing a party at the old Governor's mansion and Gavin Newsom is cosponsoring a huge outdoor block party downtown.

Our mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa, won't be making the trip, however.

Villaraigosa’s press office sent out a release announcing: “Mayor Villaraigosa today announced that he will convene emergency weekend meetings with union leaders to tackle the city's budget crisis.

“Talks will focus on ways to close a $530 million budget deficit through shared sacrifice and shared responsibility. The Mayor will begin meetings in City Hall with labor leaders on Friday evening and will continue through the weekend.” [...]

Calbuzz asked Tony V spokesman Sean Clegg if the emergency budget session was "just a lame, bullshit excuse" to skip the convention. “It’s exactly the opposite of that," Clegg said. "The city of Los Angeles and most cities across California are facing an unprecedented economic crisis and jobs come first.”

Clegg said Villaraigosa is putting the needs of his city before his personal political fortunes by trying to pull together an agreement that would require labor unions to give back some hard-earned gains in order to save jobs and services in Los Angeles.

“This is a leadership moment. Antonio Villaraigosa is not going to Twitter while Rome burns,” Clegg said -- a clear shot at the other mayor who would be governor: San Francisco's Gavin Newsom.

There's some speculation that Villaraigosa saw the writing on the wall, when he barely pulled a plurality out of the March election, against a field of unknown candidates.

A Tulchin Research/Acosta|Salazar pre-convention poll shows Villaraigosa slipping. The poll had Garamendi in the race at the time.

Tulchin Research/Acosta|Salazar +/- 4.5% (Mar. 31-Apr. 2)
Brown 31%
Newsom 16%
Villaraigosa 12%
Garamendi 11%
O'Connell 6%
Other 4%
Undecided 20%

This is quickly turning into a two-candidate race on the Dem side, with Villaraigosa slipping quietly into third place and out of the running.

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