I'm not surprised that Harman won the California Democratic Party endorsement Sunday because she's a very wealthy incumbent who has hand-picked many delegates to help keep her power when it counts. I'm saddened by it, but it shows how the game works and how hard it is to fight an incumbent. It doesn't matter if that person supported George Bush and got caught up in a national scandal about Bush's warrantless wire-tapping, or her role in trying to corrupt the media in the process. I was at the convention Saturday, but not Sunday.
OK, so we’re on to the endorsement for Jane Harman. And this is a crackup. CDP Chair John Burton has kind of lost control of the thing. More in a minute.
Here’s the deal. Burton rushed the question on the endorsement to the floor, asked for whether there would be speakers on behalf of Winograd and Harman, and didn’t hear that there were. Then he called the question and nobody knew what the question was. Then he got hot and yelled at people who didn’t understand. He called the question again, but then Winograd and her supporters asked to speak again. Burton chided them for not getting their act together but allowed them to speak.
John Burton really isn’t interested in the party business stuff and it shows.
John Burton made an absolute mess of this important floor vote. Did they stack the deck against Winograd? From what I'm hearing, there's no way they could have counted those votes in the time frame allotted.
I was sitting at a table during yesterday's lunch at the convention and was talking to some really nice people. Arianna was waiting to give the keynote speech (she did very well), but Diane Watson was introduced first and she got a standing ovation. She's retiring after many years in the House.
I told some delegates that there's a big problem between the local Democratic Party infrastructure and the netroots across the country, but especially in California. Many in the state party seem pretty devoid of any interest or knowledge in using the Internet and the many local bloggers to their advantage. California is loaded with us DFH's.
As I was making my point to the table, John Burton stood up and introduced Arianna Huffington and to my disbelief he said that he never touches a computer or goes on the Internet. Now, it's certainly not his job to do this, but come on. In a time when computers, the Internet and the blogosphere have been changing politics, how can the head of the California Democratic Party be so out of touch? I turned to the table and said, "You see what I mean?" They all nodded in agreement. After Arianna's great speech, he told the audience that her speech might change his mind and force him to sit in front of a computer. I'm paraphrasing, but you get the point. This disconnect between the party and the real world is starting to have dire consequences.
Winograd's team did a good job of getting enough signatures to thwart an automatic endorsement from the CDP, forcing a floor vote at the convention.
I talked to Marci and she was really upset at how this all shook out. Burton seemed to try and ram through the endorsement of the Bush Dog-like Harman. Marci gave me this quote:
I was pleased to see so many delegates, perhaps the majority of the floor, we'll never really know, stand up to block the endorsement of a Blue Dog that worked to reelect George Bush and foreclose on as many homes as possible.
Yes, she did get impressive numbers and Harman is going to have her hands full with the Winograd campaign. Don't be shy and help support Marci over Blue Dog Harman. The way Burton handled the Harman/Winograd situation was abominable. However, even with his hackery, I think with the blogosphere's support, Marci can still win.
Digby writes about the floor vote and says:
This is really all inter-party kabuki and doesn't mean much. The fact that Winograd even got a floor vote is a testament to Harman's weakness. She is after all, a very powerful incumbent and nationally known figure in the party. They always hang together against grassroots threats.
What matters is the primary vote. LA Progressive puts it this way:
Harman vs. Winograd is the quintessential battle of opposites; conservative vs. progressive, corporate donations vs. grassroots donations, power broker vs. people power, special interests vs. people’s interests, war vs. infrastructure, war vs. jobs, war vs. education, war vs. housing, war vs. health, war vs. the environment, and on…
This contest means the difference between reelecting an entrenched incumbent politician who supports militarism and corporatocracy or electing an inspired organizer and educator who’s dedicated her life to the local community and the community at large.
Lila Garrett, radio host, progressive icon and convention delegate summed it up for me this way:
“Winograd vs. Harman is not just another ho-hum congressional election. It’s a battle to define the Democratic Party. If it is represented by a permanent war economy fed by a policy of permanent war, secret government, authoritarian rule – that’s Harman. If it’s a party whose first priorities are peace, universal education, healthcare, employment and dignity – that’s Winograd.
They [Harman and Winograd] are polar opposites. Let the Democratic party be defined by this election. Then let those of us who care what our party stands for decide whether to remain Democrats or move on. It has come to that.”
I'm a believer in staying and fighting rather than "moving on" to quixotic, third party politics, but I agree with the rest. If Winograd wins this race it will send shockwaves through the Democratic establishment. Harman is considered untouchable, but as was demonstrated by the floor vote at the convention, she's on the run.
Harman is one of the wealthiest members of Congress. She can flood the zone with her own cash if need be. Winograd, on the other hand, is dependent on contributions from like-minded individuals who would like to have some representation in Congress that answers to the people rather than corporations, defense contractors and lobbyists.
You can donate a couple of bucks here to support her effort.
I've heard from some delegates that John Burton is doing a very good job fixing many of the problems the CDP has faced after he took over the party so that's really good to hear. They know the nuts and bolts of the party apparatus.
Robert Cruickshank has a great post up on Calitics about the CDC called:
A Movement - and a Party - In Search of Leadership
On a related note, Jerry Brown is the nominee for Governor and I haven't seen much if any outreach to the bloggers or advertising to get his message out on TV, have you?
Brown did challenge Whitman to a debate that she refused so they are now going after her hard on it with an action called: Demand Meg Join The Debate
We'll see how that winds up, but so far the word is that it's a very tight race right now.
Early polls show Brown in a statistical dead heat with Republican Meg Whitman, the billionaire former eBay CEO.
I do know one thing. If the Brown campaign doesn't get their act together soon, we'll be following up the horrendous Arnold years with Meg Whitman as Governor. I shudder at the thought.
(corrected from an earlier draft)