US Senate hopefuls sweet-talk Democratic faithful
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There wasn’t an endorsement vote, or even a straw poll. But there was still plenty of politicking at the state Democratic Party convention over the weekend by the three Democrats seeking to move up to the U.S. Senate and succeed Dianne Feinstein.
U.S. Reps. Adam Schiff, Katie Porter and Barbara Lee were out in full force — courting delegates in the exhibit hall and making their sales pitches at different caucus meetings, tailoring their messages as needed.
- At the Women’s Caucus meeting on Friday, Schiff of Burbank made his appeal by reminding the crowd of his experience standing up to former President Trump, and said it was women who voted out that “orange-haired SOB” in 2020. His other key tactic: touting his endorsement from Rep. Nancy Pelosi, who was the keynote speaker of the weekend.
- Porter of Irvine pitched her willingness to ‘’shake up Washington,” telling the Women’s Caucus that she has not taken any money from Big Oil, corporations or their political action committees.
- Lee of Oakland told delegates she would bring a unique perspective to the Senate, where there are no Black women currently serving, and highlighted her record of trying to address inequality and her readiness to vote her convictions.
The courtship continued later into the evening, with Friday night gatherings hosted by Schiff and Lee. But their tones were starkly different.
Schiff hosted a comedy night, where he dropped f-bombs and joked about his relationship with his wife, Eve (“She said, ‘Adam, we’ve been married for 25 years. We’ve been having the same sex for 25 years. And I just think there’s got to be a better way.’”) and roasted Republican politicians, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Trump.
Meanwhile, Lee’s event was loud and buzzing, with state and local elected officials singing her praises. Porter greeted delegates Saturday morning while serving breakfast items at her exhibit hall booth.
Lee’s supporters were the loudest and most visible at the convention. But it’s unclear whether activists’ enthusiasm translates into Lee or Porter catching up to Schiff’s establishment support and fundraising. Schiff’s Pelosi endorsement stood out, since the convention was so Pelosi-centered — the theme “Don’t agonize, organize!” was a quote from her, and the official tote bags featured her iconic clap-back during Trump’s State of the Union speech.
A poll released last week shows Porter and Schiff ahead of Lee, but more voters undecided. But if two of them manage to prevail in March under California’s top-two primary system, it may be Republicans — not Democrats — who decide the winner in November 2024.
More than 2,500 delegates and officials gathered at the Los Angeles Convention Center for four days ending Sunday.
Here some other key takeaways:
Organizing against MAGA
Delegates united behind the convention theme: “Don’t agonize, organize!”
And there was plenty of agony after the 2022 election, in which some close losses in California congressional races helped tip the scales in favor of Republicans taking control of the U.S. House.
The party said it contacted 850,000 voters on Saturday afternoon — a priority for Democrats. A Public Policy Institute of California analysis last week found that turnout among Democrats, women and voters of color — all key Democratic constituencies — all dropped more from 2020 than among Republicans, men and white voters.
“We need to take our organizing and our righteous fight for justice all the way ’til November of next year!” implored Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass.
To energize the party base for the 2024 election, there’s little better than going after Democrats’ favorite bogeyman — Trump, the current frontrunner for the 2024 Republican nomination. So there were plenty of attacks from party leaders against Trump and his MAGA base as extremists against women’s rights and democracy.
And Newsom used his favorite foils and one of his favorite phrases: “This is the free state of California! Eat your heart out, Florida and Texas!”
All hail Pelosi
Delegates also paid homage to Pelosi of San Francisco, the first female speaker of the U.S. House, who lost her position after last year’s election to another Californian, Republican Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield.