Soapbox

Don’t divide California Democratic Party over endorsements

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, left, jokes with John Burton, then chairman of the California Democratic Party, before addressing the state party convention in May in Sacramento.
Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, left, jokes with John Burton, then chairman of the California Democratic Party, before addressing the state party convention in May in Sacramento. AP

The Bee published a piece this week from the former controller of the state Democratic Party about a memo asking the statewide June primary candidates to refrain from seeking our endorsement (“Don’t silence delegates on endorsements,” Viewpoints, Jan. 3).

This is the same request made by the past two party chairmen, Art Torres and John Burton, using virtually the same language as the memos in 2010 and 2014 when the author was also a statewide officer of the party.

 
Opinion

Winning a 60 percent supermajority of convention delegates for our endorsement in a multi-candidate field is almost impossible. That’s why Chairman Eric Bauman asked our candidates to focus on winning votes in the June primary instead of creating needless division among delegates.

In fact, many past candidates have opted to put the party first. In 2010, the candidates for attorney general, including Kamala Harris, honored the request. Ted Lieu said our convention “should be a place where delegates come together,” and that’s true as well today. The Resistance to President Donald Trump is stronger because of leaders such as Sen. Harris and Rep. Lieu.

There is a reason we make it difficult to win the party’s endorsement; candidates should enjoy widespread support in our diverse and dynamic party. This year’s crop of candidates may seek the endorsement if they think it’s worth the time and resources needed to contact and convince 3,000-plus party insiders.

But as a grass-roots Democratic activist for nearly 30 years, I will have enormous respect for any candidate who honors Bauman’s request and concentrates on winning the support of the voters in June. But regardless of what any candidate decides, I will respect them. This is when our state and country need Democrats to stand united the most.

The criticisms of the endorsement memo are the first objections to a long-standing practice, and they come from a former party officer who backed the candidate who lost the election for party chairperson in 2017. They’re unfair, lacking credibility and off the mark.

Alexandra Gallardo-Rooker is first vice chairwoman of the California Democratic Party. She can be contacted at alex@cadem.org.

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