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California Democrats kick off annual convention in Los Angeles

PoliticsElectionsJerry BrownEric Garcetti

California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton, welcoming delegates to their annual convention, said Friday evening that while they should savor their many victories, they must remain vigilant about them, staying involved in congressional and legislative elections this year.

He noted the party’s sweep of statewide offices in 2010, and touted Gov. Jerry Brown's work to fix the state’s finances.

“We’ve done such a good job, [Republicans] are having trouble finding anyone to run against some of our candidates,” Burton told hundreds of people gathered on the pool terrace of the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.

But "we cannot be complacent," he said. "We have a lot of work to do" in local races, congressional contests and the Legislature.

"And that’s going to take each and every one of us to get out and work,” he added.

“It’s tough to be enthusiastic when you think you have a cinch,” Burton acknowledged, before noting that his late brother Phil lost an election to someone who had died two weeks before the voting, “so [stuff] happens.”

Burton was speaking on the first night of the three-day convention, at a reception sponsored by Bay Area billionaire Tom Steyer, a new and moneyed force in national politics. Surrounded by lit skyscrapers, attendees nibbled on racks of lamb and cake pops.

A slew of other parties were also set for Friday night, including an “I Love L.A.” bash hosted by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti in a downtown park, “Funkfest!” hosted by state legislators and featuring Pharcyde at the Conga Room, and other events scattered around local hot spots.

Official business will begin Saturday, with a slew of speakers. Gov. Jerry Brown and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley are scheduled to address the convention, and candidates for secretary of state, state controller, and legislative and congressional seats will court delegates as they seek the party’s official endorsement.

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seema.mehta@latimes.com

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