The top Democratic candidates for California governor pitched their cases to a raucous, fractured audience at the state Democratic Party’s convention in San Diego on Saturday, hoping to win the party’s endorsement.
The five-minute speeches hit all the familiar Democratic themes — including plenty of President Trump bashing — and were laced with subtle and not-too-subtle digs at one another.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein and rival Kevin de León offered contrasting messages to California Democrats on Saturday, hours before delegates vote on an endorsement in the race.
De León, the state’s Senate leader, repeatedly and forcefully criticized Feinstein, though not by name.
“I’m running for the United States Senate because the days of Democrats biding our time, biting our tongue and triangulating at the margins are over,” De León said. “And I’m running because California’s greatness comes from acts of human audacity, not from congressional seniority.”
Rep. Maxine Waters knows how to take advantage of a good viral moment when she creates it. More than six months after she cut off Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin during a committee hearing and declared she was “reclaiming my time,” she took the stage at general session of the California Democratic Party and repeated the same words.
“I shut down him down,” she told the audience, which cheered and held signs that bore the three-word slogan as she said it three times more: “Reclaiming my time, reclaiming my time, reclaiming my time.”
Blasting Republicans in Congress as “spineless, unpatriotic, intimidated” and calling President Trump “the most unworthy, untrustworthy, duplicitous human being this country has ever witnessed,” Waters held nothing back.
California Democrats got a glimpse Saturday of four up-and-comers considered potential contenders for the White House in 2020, each of whom talked of ending what they described as the dark era of President Trump.
Three were California’s own, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Sen. Kamala Harris and billionaire political activist Tom Steyer. The fourth, Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley, lives a state away.
Just back from a trip to the early presidential primary state of South Carolina, Garcetti was the first of the group to address the California Democratic Party convention in San Diego.
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.