Capitol Alert

AM Alert: Elizabeth Warren headlines California Democratic convention

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., waves to the crowd after her introduction at the Netroots Nation conference in Detroit on July 18, 2014.
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., waves to the crowd after her introduction at the Netroots Nation conference in Detroit on July 18, 2014. The Associated Press file

California Democrats host their annual convention this weekend in Orange County to toast their dominance in the state and chart a course for 2016.

Democrats will hear from Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a champion of liberal causes. Fellow Bay Stater Barney Frank, the former congressman, is another featured speaker.

Though Warren is not running for president, disappointing many on the left, her voice is helping to shape the policy debate as candidate Hillary Clinton looks to assert her front-runner status among Democrats ahead of next year’s election.

The party faithful may have the opportunity to press the flesh with candidates for California’s first open U.S. Senate seat in 24 years. Attorney General Kamala Harris and Rep. Loretta Sanchez, who announced her campaign yesterday, are scheduled to attend several events.

More than 3,000 delegates and their guests will be at the event in Anaheim, which will feature speeches by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and members of Congress and the Legislature.

Newsom is headlining a party on Friday night called “Turn Up for Turnout,” featuring the band Sugar Ray, hosted by California Young Democrats.

Activists also have planned demonstrations against fracking and oil companies, and some expect the anti-vaccine debate dominating the Capitol this legislative session to make its way south.

POLL POSITION: Billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer may not be running for Senate, but he could still end up a major player in California’s 2016 election. Hinting at plans to spearhead another proposition, Steyer and Consumer Watchdog will release a poll showing public support for a ballot measure to combat the state’s rising gas prices, 1:15 p.m. at the Democratic convention. In recent months, Steyer has been publicly pressuring oil companies to give consumers a “fair shake” at the pump.

LET ME IN: After helping block last year’s effort to revive affirmative action in California public colleges, Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff is turning his attention across the country to diversity at Harvard University. Huff will announce his support for an administrative complaint alleging systemic discrimination against Asian Americans in Harvard admissions, and introduce a Senate resolution calling on the school to change its practices, 10 a.m. at University Community Park in Irvine.

AND THEY’RE OFF: Let commencement season commence! California Supreme Court Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar will help kick off a month of graduation ceremonies at UC Davis as guest speaker for the School of Law commencement, 4 p.m. at the Mondavi Center.

THREE GOVS, ONE CLUB: What could get three former California governors together in one room? Civic engagement for young people, of course. Former Govs. Pete Wilson and Gray Davis will join California YMCA Youth & Government to honor former Gov. George Deukmejian for his support of the organization, which runs education programs for middle and high schoolers, Saturday night at the exclusive Jonathan Club in Los Angeles.

CELEBRATIONS: Happy birthday to Sen. Sharon Runner, R-Lancaster, who turns 61 on Sunday.

Christopher Cadelago: (916) 326-5538, @ccadelago. Alexei Koseff of The Bee Capitol Bureau contributed to this report.