By Kristen Law
For the first time in over 20 years, the California Democratic Convention was held in San Francisco at the Moscone Center from May 31-June 2, 2019. The convention had both statewide and nationwide importance for the Democratic party: on a statewide level, the delegates had the task of choosing the next state party chair (after a series of lawsuits were filed against the party and the previous chair, Eric Bauman, for discrimination, sexual harassment, workplace bullying, and more). And nationwide, with California’s 2020 primary now on “Super Tuesday,” presidential candidates are taking California more seriously than in the past; and many candidates attended and spoke at the convention.
I had the good luck to attend as a delegate representing Region 5, since Representative Mark DeSaulnier appointed me to help promote progressive thinking in the state party. I had the opportunity to join thousands of other delegates and guests in caucus meetings, meetings with the candidates for the California Democratic Chair, and general sessions, including speeches from 14 Democratic presidential hopefuls; and to stand in a two-hour line to vote for the new chair of the California Democratic Party. I also got to hug “Auntie Maxine” Waters, which made the cost of admission and long lines worth it.
Rusty Hicks, a labor leader from Southern California, garnered 57% of the votes to become the new California Democratic Chair. I supported Kimberly Ellis, a local Bay Area activist, who finished second with 36%. Ellis would have been the first woman to lead the state party in more than 30 years and the first Black woman to chair the organization. She drove a progressive agenda and I heard rumors that the party establishment breathed a sigh of relief because of Ellis’ support of publicly financed elections.
It was exciting to have 14 presidential candidates address the delegates about their platforms and how to remove the current occupant from the White House. Overall the narrative was pushed further left than expected – perhaps because of California’s spot in the primaries. Hot topics in many of the speeches included climate change, women’s rights, health care for all, immigration, education, getting corrupt money out of politics and much more. John Delaney and John Hickenlooper were booed off stage.
We also heard from numerous Californian elected officials, including Governor Gavin Newsom, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and many more. Pelosi was met with shouts of “impeach” throughout her speech – shouts that got louder as she discussed the Mueller Report.
The convention was filled with progressive demonstrations and tabling. Two of my favorites: Planned Parenthood was promoting Project X, their campaign to protect and expand health care, and the Sex Workers Outreach Project asked for support on SB 233, the Immunity from Arrest Law.
Without multiple clones, it was impossible to get to every event – thankfully the California Democratic Party has posted videos and results online!
- You can watch the General Session videos at this link.
- You can find the floor packet, resolutions passed, legislation endorsed, rules changes, and training materials at this link.
The next convention is just a little over five months away in Long Beach (November 15-17). I’ve been told that this one will be focused on endorsements; details coming soon!
Kristen Law loves her Richmond community and when she is not working as a Community Engagement Specialist or teaching and practicing yoga you can find her snuggling her pets, saving butterflies or testing vegan recipes. She was one of the founding members of Indivisible East Bay and co-leads the CA-11 team.