Thursday, February 9, 2012

National Media Picks Up On CA Endorsement Scandal, "When Democratic Party Bosses Cling to Power"

Just in time for the California Democratic Party convention in San Diego this weekend, the Huffington Post picked up on the story we ran earlier this week on how Assembly Speaker John Perez is diverting resources away from winnable swing districts to protect "incumbent" Assemblymembers running is super-safe Democratic districts.

Paul Hogarth gives some good background that I had left out in the original piece, so I include it here.

Ten years ago when it came to redistricting, Democrats in the legislature made an unholy alliance with Republicans to carve "safe" districts for each party. Not only did it polarize the legislature, but it also gave right-wing Republicans artificially high representation -- at a time when the state was getting younger, browner and more progressive every year. But with a new map drawn by a Citizen Task Force, Democrats are poised to gain seats this November -- and if they play their cards right, maybe win a two-thirds supermajority. If that should happen, we could finally pass real revenue solutions in Sacramento that make millionaires and oil companies pay their fair share.

If you were John Perez, the Speaker of the State Assembly, this should be an historic opportunity to herald resources at expanding the Democratic majority. Instead, he has made the re-election of Assemblywoman Betsy Butler his #1 priority. Even if it means moving her to a new district -- because the one she currently represents is no longer as "safe" as it was. Even if it means having her challenge other Democratic candidates, progressives who have deeper ties to that community. And even if it means using the State Party's obscure rules to stack the deck at Democratic Party endorsement meetings.

This weekend, Osborn faces a tough uphill battle to block that endorsement. If anything, the deck is even more stacked against her than it was in the AD-50 pre-endorsement caucus, where Butler got 57% of the vote, most of it coming from delegates Perez had pulled from Assemblymembers in other districts.

Legislators can appoint half of their delegation outside of their own district, and those appointees get to vote in their own districts. Speaker John Perez has been pretty vocal in encouraging Ms. Osborn to "wait her turn" until Ms. Butler is termed out. The problem with that is that she had been waiting her turn for Asm. Mike Feuer to term out in 2012. Butler's district barely touched this new AD-50, in fact she represents less than 2% of the new AD-50 now. However, as Butler decided not to run for the now more Republican friendly district that encompasses much of her new district, Osborn is now being told to wait again by the Assembly caucus. Except she is not waiting, and has continued to run her campaign.

As a result, Speaker Perez has been organizing a dump of delegates into the new district, tilting the balance from Osborn to Butler. At the convention, where the Democratic club members do not get to participate, this tilt of power towards legislators becomes more pronounced. If Butler is able to get 2/3 of the delegates in her column, the only way to remove the endorsement from the consent calendar is to get 2 members from the Pre-primary endorsement review panel (PERC) to agree to pull it off the consent calender for PERC review. If less than 2/3 support Butler, Osborn supporters will be able to gather 300 signatures to bring the endorsement to the floor.

So this weekend promises to be interesting. Osborn's supporters aren't the only ones promising to bring the endorsement to the floor for a vote. Delegations from the Progressive, LGBT, Women's and Environmental caucus have been vocal on Dem party listserves, as have members of Take Back Red California. 

As a result, expect Osborn's people to have lots of help collecting the 300 signatures needed to take Butler's endorsement off the consent calendar.

If Butler can be held below the 2/3rds threshold in the endorsement vote on Saturday, expect a floor fight on Sunday.

No comments:

Post a Comment