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State Democratic Party convention casts endorsement ballots

Organized chaos reigned Saturday afternoon as delegates of the California Democratic Party began casting their endorsement ballots in races featuring more than one Democrat vying for the party's backing.

Cheering sections for state Sen. Alex Padilla of Pacoima, who is running for secretary of state, and Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez of Los Angeles, who is campaigning for state controller, raucously greeted delegates as they arrived at the balloting area at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

They outnumbered--or at least out-shouted--supporters of former Common Cause executive Derek Cressman, also running for secretary of state, and advocates for state Board of Equalization member Betty Yee, competing with Pérez for the party's nod for controller.

State Sen. Leland Yee, another candidate for secretary of state, greeted arriving delegates by urging them to vote "no endorsement" in that race.

His volunteers handed out copies of a letter to party members from state party Chairman John Burton urging that they stay neutral in the two statewide races and avoid divisive battles.

Sen. Yee's action appeared to be a tacit acknowledgment that he did not have the votes to win the endorsement himself and was trying instead to deny it to Padilla.

Party endorsements can be important in statewide races because they can help party loyalists decide on a candidate, especially in low-profile contests with candidates who are not widely known.

Results of the endorsement balloting, which also included voting in a handful of congressional, Assembly and state Senate races, were to be announced later Saturday. They won't be official until voted on by those attending Sunday's general session.

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