I am firmly committed to getting a 2/3 majority in both houses of the state Legislature by 2010. Fabian Nuñez believes that, in the Assembly, we can get halfway there
Speaking at the Sacramento Press Club yesterday, Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez said Democrats should add three seats to their 48-32 majority in the California Assembly in November's elections.
Nunez made the prediction after new figures from the Secretary of State show a surge in Democratic registrations in all but two Assembly districts, including three held by incumbent Republicans who will be forced to leave office.
They include the desert/Riverside area seat held by Assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia, the San Diego seat of Assemblywoman Shirley Horton, and the Contra Costa/Sacramento Delta seat held by Assemblyman Guy Houston.
These are clearly the three seats to target. AD-80 (Garcia's seat) has some excellent candidates on the Democratic side, including Greg Pettis
and the Hispanic Barack Obama, Manuel Perez
. We have good candidates in AD-78 (Horton's old seat) and AD-15 (Houston's) as well - as those Caliticians in those districts can attest. Plus, we not only have registration advantages, but the advantage of a game-changing Democratic nominee at the top of the ticket (whether it's Obama or Clinton) that will bring new Democratic voters to the process. These three seats are prime opportunities, and there are other Assembly opportunities like Greg Aghazarian's seat (he's also termed out), and more in the Senate (Hannah Beth Jackson's bid in SD-19, the possible Jeff Denham recall, Abel Maldonado's SD-15).
However, I want to highlight this nugget about the way Assembly and Senate elections are managed in California.
If Democrats field strong candidates for these seats, we could be looking at a pickup of 2/3+ seats.
Each of the marquee races are expected to be $1 million+ contests. The new Assembly Speaker will be responsible for raising funds and overseeing the campaigns.
I've talked about this with party leaders several times, and nobody has given me an adequate explanation about this. In a way, it's a lot like the DCCC as the House-based campaign arm for national elections. But I'm struggling to understand why the Speaker (and the President Pro Tem of the Senate) have the sole
responsibility of overseeing these elections and creating advertising, GOTV, etc. It seems to me that the California Democratic Party would be able to do a much better job in these districts, with their membership already on the ground and involved, and with a larger fundraising base to conduct the operations necessary. Yet for some reason, there is this bifurcation: the CDP deals with statewide races and Congressional seats, and the Assembly and Senate leadership do the legislative races. Is this just tradition? Why can't the CDP play in whatever race they wish?
This problem, or at least what I consider a problem, is compounded by the fact that we will have new leadership in the Assembly and Senate, leadership that may be unused to running multiple campaign operations out of their offices. I think Darrell Steinberg is a fine man (so does George Skelton
) who's going to do a great job as the Senate leader, but I don't know how he's going to do facilitating Hannah Beth Jackson's race in the Thousand Oaks area. Furthermore, the new Assembly Speaker won't be picked for a month, and we have to start on these races right now. Obviously the Presidential race is going to take up all the oxygen in the fall, so ensuring that the Democratic candidates get their message out and the Republicans in these open seats are defined is crucial. And right now, for the next month, there's literally nobody to do that.
(Also, the proliferation of independent expenditure money
in this state necessitates some organizational and financial help for legislative candidates that may otherwise just get swamped.)
I can hold judgment on the efficacy of this and bow to those wiser in the ways of California elections if I were given a satisfactory explanation for this structure. But nobody has done so, and I've spoken to a lot of people inside the CDP about this. I think 2008, in a favorable environment for Democrats, with no statewide races on the ballot at all, and with a badly broken Republican Party in California that is broke and rife with internal squabbling, would be an excellent time to shift this tradition, and for the CDP to exercise some muscle in these legislative districts, helping solid Democrats get elected and moving us ever closer to the desired 2/3 majority that we need to make the real changes necessary to move the state forward.
This is not an accusation, but a dialogue. I'm looking for ways for my party to be more effective.
Labels: 2/3 requirement, 2008, AD-15, AD-78, AD-80, California Democratic Party, Fabian Nuñez