Capitol Alert

California Democrats battle over endorsements on convention floor

Emilio Huerta speaks on the floor of the California Democratic Party convention.
Emilio Huerta speaks on the floor of the California Democratic Party convention. The Sacramento Bee

Fierce endorsement fights erupted Sunday on the floor of the state Democratic Party convention, with a former assemblywoman and the son of a labor legend blocking earlier endorsements.

In the contest to succeed state Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, former Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada successfully nullified the the party’s endorsement of Assemblyman Bill Dodd, a Napa Republican-turned-Democrat elected to the lower chamber just two years ago.

Addressing the full convention, Yamada said she brought the challenge because she doesn’t think the party’s stamp of approval should be decided by fewer than 100 delegates from the 3rd Senate District.

“I just want to be sure that this vote gets to be decided by a vote of the people,” she said.

State Controller Betty Yee, speaking on Yamada’s behalf, said she upholds the party’s values and that Dodd should stay in his current job.

“This race did not need to happen,” she said. “We worked hard to get Assembly member Dodd elected” in 2014.

Dodd’s supporters, as part of their futile effort to retain the endorsement, contended he’s been a solid vote for labor since taking office.

In the second endorsement fight, Emilio Huerta, a Bakersfield lawyer and son of Dolores Huerta, the famed labor leader, blocked the endorsement of Democratic rival Daniel Parra in a Central Valley congressional race, then sought to win the endorsement for himself on the convention floor.

The effort failed, giving neither candidate the party’s nod.

The 21st Congressional District seat is currently held by Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford.

Supporters of Parra, a Fowler city councilman, argued that the district required grassroots representation. Huerta lives outside the district’s boundaries.

“I come from local politics, I run a local campaign,” Parra said.

Huerta, who was introduced to delegates by his mother, said, “I know that we can win this election, because I care about the 21st Congressional District.”

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago