Good morning, California.
“I told you this was like coming home for me.”—House Speaker Nancy Pelsoi, speaking to the California Democratic Party convention in San Francisco, as shouts of “impeach” grew louder. Pelosi steadfastly did not call for impeachment, though she promised that President Trump would be fully investigated.
Read the wrap-up of the convention by CALmatters’ Ben Christopher by clicking here.
California: More than an ATM
Fourteen presidential hopefuls made their way to the Bay Area.
The Bay Area, always an ATM for national candidates, became a place for retail politics for 14 Democratic presidential hopefuls this weekend, thanks to legislation approved two years ago that moved this state’s presidential primary up to March 3.
- Because of early voting, Californians will be able to cast votes on the day the Iowa caucus takes place.
Sens. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, along with South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and many more, addressed the California Democratic Party convention in San Francisco, and spent some or all of the weekend at rallies, fundraisers and the occasional press gaggle.
- CALmatters’ Ben Christopher and Elizabeth Castillo, who spent the weekend in the wilds of Moscone Center, offer their take in this handy slide show.
Frontrunner Joe Biden was the notable no-show. He was speaking about LGBT rights at a Human Rights Campaign dinner in Columbus, Ohio, where he was introduced by Chad Griffin, the organization’s president, a former Clinton administration official.
- Meanwhile: Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis, the Obama administration’s first Labor Secretary, endorsed Biden.
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What was left unsaid
Elizabeth Warren addresses the California Democratic Party convention.
In their speeches to the California Democratic Party convention in San Francisco, most presidential candidates offered little more than platitudes about California’s issues.
No mention of:
- High-profile legislation in Sacramento related to police shootings, or
- California’s fight with the Trump administration over clean air and auto emissions, or
- The president’s threat to cut wildfire disaster aid, and
- Little talk of homelessness, in a city where candidates could not avoid seeing people in tents and doorways, although Sen. Cory Booker did call for better care for mentally ill people.
Sure, there were references to the border and immigration but nothing about the potential impact on California if, for example, Trump follows through on imposing tariffs on goods from Mexico.
- Sen. Kamala Harris got applause for her call to start impeachment proceedings against Trump. The state’s former attorney general made no mention of police use of force, but recently detailed a housing plan in Iowa.
- Booker wove his personal story, including his Stanford education, with topics of the day, including the slaughter of 12 people in Virginia, but didn’t mention California’s role in gun control.
- Elizabeth Warren probably gave the best performance, with her plans for this and that and her calls to break up big ag, big banks and big tech.
- Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, mired near the bottom of the polls, talked about his tour of Paradise, and deftly tied his call to combat climate change with the need for blue collar jobs, including having the United Auto Workers build electric cars in Michigan.
Why not point to California? We do, after all, have a factory specifically dedicated to building EVs, Tesla.
Scary moment amid light security
U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California
Associated Press’ Nick Riccardi was quick to capture the moment with a tweet: “Whoa someone comes on stage and grabs the mic during the q&a w Harris at the Big Idea forum.”
- Security was surprisingly light for the California Democratic Party convention in and around the Moscone Center in San Francisco, a city that has experienced more than its share of political violence.
As Sen. Kamala Harris spoke Saturday about gender pay equity at a MoveOn event near the convention center, a man stepped onto the stage, took Harris’ microphone and began mansplaining palaver related to animal rights.
- Harris, unharmed, returned to complete her remarks.
- In a sign of the times, the guy was not arrested, and made himself available for media interviews outside the convention center, which is named for Mayor George Moscone, who was assassinated in his City Hall office in 1978.
New Democratic leader
Rusty Hicks in the blue blazer
Los Angeles labor leader Rusty Hicks was elected California Democratic Party chair, marking the second time the party rejected insurgent candidate Kimberly Ellis, CALmatters’ Ben Christopher and Elizabeth Castillo report.
- Ellis won the endorsement of independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is running for president as a Democrat.
- Hicks won endorsements that mattered, including elected California Democrats and organized labor.
Hicks is the president of Los Angeles Federation of Labor, a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Reserves and an alum of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.
- Hicks will be in charge of what matters most to party insiders: managing the Democratic Party apparatus and raising money all in the service of electing Democratic candidates.
Money matters: Hicks takes over the California Democratic Party when it’s flush. It had $11.8 million in the bank as of mid-May, to the California Republican Party’s $343,000.
Blue collar workers
Building trades members at the California Democratic Party convention.
The California Democratic Party has shunned campaign donations from oil companies.
On Saturday, Sen. Kamala Harris and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, like several other Democratic presidential candidates, signed pledges that they would take no “fossil fuel” campaign money.
- But the Democratic Party and its candidates welcome campaign help from the oil industry’s blue collar workers, represented by unions that are part of the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California.
- The building trades council illustrated that point at the party’s convention in San Francisco by wearing t-shirts with the slogan: “We built this party.”
Noting that President Trump won votes of many blue collar workers in 2016, Robbie Hunter, head of the council, told me: “This [Democratic] party isn’t talking about working people’s issues.”
In Sacramento, oil industry lobbyists and the trades council are allied on issues, including opposing a ban on fracking, any new bans on oil drilling, and air emission standards that might force refineries to shut.
- Money matters: The building trades donated $1.4 million to the California Democratic Party and county parties in the 2017-18 election cycle, and $100,000 to the state party in May and in April.
To go deeper, read this piece by Politico’s Carla Marinucci and Debra Kahn.
High stakes in emissions fight
Unrelenting commutes. Lost construction jobs. A statewide economic shudder. Prepare for all three if California loses its clean air battle with the Trump administration, CALmatters environment reporter Rachel Becker writes.
- All that could be collateral damage as California battles the Trump administration over the feds’ attempt to roll back Obama-era fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards for vehicles. Trump’s ultimate leverage: money.
- There are a lot of ifs, but in a worst-case scenario, roughly 2,000 projects totaling $130 billion could be affected.
Chris Schmidt, of CalTrans: “The ramifications are pretty dire.”
A question for Trump: Is he willing to undermine transportation in a state whose ports account for 40% of all goods coming into the United States?
Commentary at CALmatters
Mark Arax, author of “The Dreamt Land: Chasing water and dust across California”: We Californians grabbed nothing less than the edge of a continent, 1,000 miles in length. Highest mountain, lowest desert, longest coast, most epic valley, riparian forest, redwood forest, wetland, grassland and inland sea. The rain fell 125 inches a year in one place and seven inches a year in the other place. A land this crazy makes people crazy.
Dan Walters, CALmatters: Limiting interest rates on loans to the poor is a sincere effort, but it does nothing about the state’s high poverty level.
See you tomorrow.