Do you want to influence the agenda that the California Democratic Party sets for our state? Then put democracy into the Democratic Party, and make your voice heard! This weekend, January 10th and 11th, there will be elections for delegates to the state party convention, which is the body that makes endorsements, writes the state party platform, and so forth. In each of the eighty Assembly districts across the state, only a thousand or so people vote, choosing among about fifty candidates for fourteen spots. If you’re a registered Democratic voter in California as of the last election, here’s how to participate:
- Go to the state legislature's district finder and punch in your address to get your state Assembly district. (While you're at it, bookmark your state Assembly member and Senator's websites.* C'mon, I know you've been meaning to.)
- Find your election place, time, and list of candidates with statements: 2015 ASSEMBLY DISTRICT ELECTION MEETINGS (ADEMS). Now's the time to check. Don't wait 'til mid-day Saturday and possibly get surprised that your district's election has already passed.
- Choose up to seven women and seven men to vote for.
- Show up—be sure to be on time—and vote!
Heck, bring a few friends to vote too, and become an instant power bloc.
Here's what you're voting for the delegates to do, as members of the Democratic State Central Committee (DSCC):
- Attend the 2015 and 2016 conventions
- Elect Party officers
- Decide to endorse candidates for statewide, legislative, and congressional office
- Decide to endorse resolutions and ballot measures
Though it's not required, you can stick around and listen to the candidates give their in-person statements before deciding how to vote. Don't be surprised if it seems like most people there swoop in, vote for the same fourteen candidates, and leave. That's "machine politics" at work: the power brokers pick their slate and turn their people out. But you can help thwart that, if some of the spots are close enough for a contest... or you can be a part of a good "machine" and join with others to vote for a slate of liberal, reform-minded candidates.
Note that the complete population of delegates includes more than those elected this weekend. To round out the remaining delegate spots, county party committees elect some, and Democratic elected government officeholders and nominees appoint others. As for the California Republican Party (don't laugh... or, rather, go ahead and laugh!), so far as I can tell, all of their delegates are appointed. Guess elections are too democratic for them.
In our stupid new "top two" "primary" electoral system, the candidate endorsements are actually pretty important. While I'm generally against the party endorsing candidates in its own primaries... in this state, we don't get our own official primary, so having a "party favorite" could be helpful rather than hurtful. For example, in a case of two Republicans running for a particular office along with a bunch of Democrats, if the Dems split the vote too evenly, then it'll just be the two Republicans on the November ballot. This has already happened—in a district that voted solidly for Obama (CA-31, 2012 [PDF]). Talk about a spoiler effect! Then there are the conservatives who slap on a "D" registration to run and block out real Democrats (AD 4, 2014 [PDF]). Hopefully someday we can go back to having closed party primaries, which were actually more honest as well as more accessible to candidates who aren't corporatist centrists.
For an example of the kind of thing a delegate can do and does, check out a report from our own David Atkins:
Resolution against the tax cut deal for the rich
* Districts changed in 2012 according to the 2010 census and the new non-partisan redistricting commission's map. The up-to-date even-numbered state Senate districts finally went into effect with the 2014 election.
By thereisnospoon, Dec. 16, 2010