Days before one of California’s most powerful labor unions announces its endorsement in the race for governor, the four top Democratic candidates courted members of the group’s largest and most influential local chapter in Los Angeles on Thursday night.
The gubernatorial forum, which focused on the state’s long-term care needs for its growing senior population, lacked the disputes seen in recent debates between Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, former Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, state Treasurer John Chiang and former state schools chief Delaine Eastin.
The four candidates instead promised to fight for higher pay for in-home healthcare workers and stronger union protections for SEIU Local 2015, the largest chapter of the Service Employees International Union’s California organization. The state group is expected to announce its endorsement ahead of the California Democratic Party convention later this month.
Two of the biggest names in California Democratic circles implored party faithful to fight to win in the midterms as Democrats try to seize back control of the U.S. House.
“Standing in the way of the American Dream are Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, Donald Trump and Mike Pence,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. “They are in the way of equality of opportunity, public education and debt-free college. They are in the way of affordable healthcare.”
Despite intractability on issues such as gun control, immigration and sexual harassment, “We don’t agonize, we organize!” Pelosi said. The same slogan was plastered on posters that bore her name and likeness imposed on the classic image of “Rosie the Riveter.”
Antonio Villaraigosa was endorsed by the United Farm Workers at the California Democratic Convention on Saturday, a counterpoint to claims the previous night that he is not a friend to labor unions.
“Antonio has consistently stood with and worked with farmworkers in good times and tough times over the course of many years,” said Arturo Rodriguez, president of the union, saying Villaraigosa’s efforts stretched from picketing on behalf of striking grape pickers as a teenager to his days as an elected leader and beyond. “He made calls to legislators, he walked picket lines and he sought to use his influence to help farmworkers get better lives.”
Villaraigosa noted that while he had never worked in the fields, he felt a responsibility to stand up for farmworkers and other Californians to have rewarding work that allows them to provide for their families.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein stuck to core Democratic themes in a speech to delegates at the California Democratic Party convention in San Diego on Saturday, saying President Trump has disgraced the White House, and highlighting her decades-long support for the assault weapons ban and protecting immigrants.
The senator, who is running for her fifth full term, also indirectly touched on the intraparty challenge she faces from state Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León of Los Angeles.
De León lags far behind in the polls and fundraising but has picked up strong support from labor unions and has at least an outside shot at nabbing the state party’s endorsement this weekend.