“Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;”
William Butler Yeats, The Second Coming
Last year, following several years of struggle, Garry Shay, Lead Chair of the Rules Committee, California Democratic Party was able to push through a rule change that impacted how endorsements are made. Prior to the rule change, an incumbent candidate required just 50% of the vote by the delegates versus 60% of the vote required for a challenger to receive the Party’s endorsement. This gave the incumbent a 10% point advantage over any and all challengers.
The rule change leveled the playing field and now for ANY candidate (whether they are an incumbent or challenger) to receive an endorsement, they must receive at least 60% of the delegate votes. Those past labors came to fruition this weekend at the California Democratic Party state convention when incumbent and long term serving Senator Dianne Feinstein did not receive the state party’s endorsement. According to California Democratic Party delegate, Marcy Winograd, “the big news is the rank and file Dems denied Feinstein an endorsement with her rival candidate Kevin de Leon getting 54% of the vote. For the state governor’s race, Gavin Newsom got 39%, John Chiang got 30% and Antonio Villaraigosa got 9%.”
One of my biggest issues with the Democratic Party has been their reluctance to throw overboard their establishment leaders who vote after vote, and year after year continue to support the “debt and death” paradigm that benefits a tiny elite while impoverishing the vast majority of our citizens. Organizations like the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (the D-Triple-C) are intent on cloning their corporate establishment candidates and dictating who will get the nod from the party’s leaders rather than the rank and file.
A friend of mine in Los Angeles County once told me he believed the reason for this is the “Republicans seem to see things as an existential threat; whereas Democratic Party members believe what needs to be done is a little housekeeping, rearrange a couple of chairs on the deck, and everything will be fine.” Perhaps it is viewing things as an existential threat that enabled the Republican base to overcome the party leadership and install Donald Trump. But, I think that story is still writing itself . . .
The question remains, was what happened this past weekend at the state convention a fluke? Or could this signal a change in what the Democratic Party is prepared to settle for?
Endorsements are significant. In a system where the winner of a majority or plurality wins, a “NO” endorsement is the closest we can come to sending a “no confidence” message to our elected representatives.