Politics

How Nancy Pelosi's daughter and Dianne Feinstein's granddaughter became part of the electoral college

When she was first picked to vote in the electoral college, Francine Busby was beyond excited. The San Diego Democratic Party chairwoman believed she was going to be marking an official ballot to choose the first woman president of the United States.

Now, though, given Republican Donald Trump upset Hillary Clinton to win the presidency, California’s electoral college meeting is going to be much different than she expected.

“There’s no joy in casting a vote right now,” Busby said.

Trump won more electoral votes than Clinton, which, despite her current 2 million-plus lead in the national popular vote, will give him the presidency.  

California is the largest state in the union and its 55 electoral votes are the most in the country.

Clinton received millions more votes than Trump here, so Busby and her 54 Democratic colleagues will meet in the state Capitol building at 2 p.m. on Dec. 19 to cast their formal ballots for Clinton and vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine.

They will be alone. The winner of California’s popular vote gets the state’s entire slate of electoral votes, only Democratic electors will gather to make the state’s selection of Clinton official.

As efforts to get electors in swing states to select Clinton instead of Trump heat up, California electors are unlikely to be lobbied. 

“Under California law, electors aren’t bound to a candidate but all our electors have said they are voting for Hillary Clinton,” state Democratic Party spokesman Michael Soller said.

Christine Pelosi and her mother, Nancy Pelosi.
Christine Pelosi and her mother, Nancy Pelosi. (Gilbert Carrasquillo / Getty Images)

Not all the Democratic electors are party officials like Busby. Each political party in California chooses its electors differently.

Democrats give the top Democratic finisher in the congressional primary in each of the state’s 53 House districts the choice of who will be that district’s elector. So Douglas Applegate, who trails GOP Rep. Darrell Issa in a still-tight congressional race in northern San Diego County, selected Busby. U.S. Sen.-elect Kamala Harris and Sen. Dianne Feinstein chose the final two electors. 

The Democrats’ list is made up of elected officials, relatives of elected officials and other party advocates.

Laphonza Butler.
Laphonza Butler. (Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

Among the electors are Janine Bera, the wife of Rep. Ami Bera of Elk Grove; Christine Pelosi, the daughter of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and chairwoman of the state party’s women’s caucus; Eileen Feinstein Mariano, granddaughter of Sen. Dianne Feinstein; and Olivia Reyes-Becerra, daughter of Rep. Xavier Becerra of Los Angeles.

State Assemblywomen Susan Eggman of Stockton and Shirley Weber of San Diego, former state Sen. Christine Kehoe of San Diego, Los Angeles City Councilwoman Nury Martinez and Laphonza Butler, president of the Service Employees International Union chapter that represents home care employees, also are on the list.

Though the state’s other political parties are left out of the electoral college, they came up with rosters of their own. The state GOP automatically selects previous party nominees for state offices with the rest of the choices made by the party’s chairman.

Current state Republican Party Chairman Jim Brulte said he called Tim Clark, who led Trump’s campaign in California, to ask him to fill out the list. Well-known names are on that party’s slate, too, including state Sens. Joel Anderson of San Diego and Jean Fuller of Bakersfield, former Rep. Doug Ose of Elk Grove, state Board of Equalization member Diane Harkey and Republican National Committeeman Shawn Steel.

Harmeet Dhillon, a state party official who delivered a Sikh prayer at the Republican National Convention, also was an elector.

Harmeet Dhillon.
Harmeet Dhillon. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
Jim Brulte.
Jim Brulte. (Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

Brulte, who is a GOP elector himself, said he didn’t mind working to pick an electoral college slate even though the party’s list doesn’t matter.

“I would have much rather had Donald Trump be elected president and me not get to vote in the electoral college than me getting to vote in electoral college and Hillary Clinton be elected president,” Brulte said.

Third parties have their own rules. The list for the American Independent Party in California, which also nominated Trump for president, includes former GOP Reps. Virgil Goode, Bob Dornan and John LeBoutillier — all of whom don’t actually live in California.

liam.dillon@latimes.com

Follow me at @dillonliam on Twitter

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