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California Democratic Party convention wrap-up

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From endorsements to septuagenarians, a few closing notes from this weekend’s California Democratic Party convention.

The brightest stars of the gathering at the Los Angeles Convention Center illustrated the party’s historical track record, but perhaps not the young voters who weighed in in 2008 and who are critical to the party’s success at the ballot box this year.

Among the party standard-bearers who spoke were Attn. Gen. Jerry Brown, 72, who is seeking another term as governor; Sen. Barbara Boxer, 69, who faces a tough reelection battle, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, 70, who on Saturday introduced one of her grandchildren as a first-time conventioneer.

The party’s musical taste at times also tended to older generations: versions of the Mamas & the Papas’ “California Dreamin’,” McFadden & Whitehead’s “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now,” Marvin Gaye’s “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and the Rolling Stones’ “Start Me Up.” One of the more interesting choices occurred as delegates left the convention center on Sunday, Lenny Kravitz’s “It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over”:

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So many tears I’ve cried
So much pain inside
But baby it ain’t over ‘til it’s over

That last line may be a message blogger Mickey Kaus is taking to heart. The former Slate contributor is challenging Boxer in the Democratic primary. His prospects are dim, and he was not allowed to speak at the convention. But Kaus was allowed to attend Boxer’s news conference on Saturday morning, as long as he didn’t ask a question.

Boxer acknowledged Kaus, who behaved himself, when asked about the Nazis who were protesting nearby at City Hall.

“I do feel in this great country, where we have so many freedoms, people can say whatever they want. I encourage them to do that, even Mickey,” Boxer said. “But the fact is we really should talk about what our words mean because there are some people who take those words and it might move them to do things that are dangerous for our society. We have to be careful about how we present our views.”

In official party news, Democrats announced the results of endorsement elections in two contested primaries, giving the nod to Assemblyman Dave Jones over Assemblyman Hector De La Torre in the state insurance commissioner race. But in the race for lieutenant governor, despite heavy politicking, neither San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom nor Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn garnered enough votes to reach the 60% threshold required for endorsement.

The party also voted to support Proposition 13, which would not add seismic retrofitting to a property’s taxed value, and Proposition 15, a public campaign-finance effort. It is opposing Proposition 14, an open-primary effort; Proposition 16, which would require a two-thirds vote to allow a public agency to enter the energy business; and Proposition 17, which would allow car insurance companies to penalize drivers who have a lapse in coverage.

-- Seema Mehta


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