Fourteen Democratic presidential candidates converged in San Francisco for the 2019 California Democratic Convention. We followed the candidates with a focus on the issues most important to Californians. For more, on Twitter follow CapRadio reporters Ben Adler, Scott Rodd, Sally Schilling, Chris Nichols and Nick Miller who will be analyzing what they heard this week.
Monday, 9:30 a.m.
That's All, Folks!
Thanks for tuning in to our California Democratic Convention live blog this weekend! We're signing off of this blog, but you can find extended coverage of the convention on Insight all this week, including a segment today recapping the convention.
Sunday, 7:04 p.m.
Rusty Hicks wins chair election, seeks party unity ahead of 2020 election
The California Democratic Party has elected labor leader Rusty Hicks as its chairperson after the previous chairman resigned amid sexual harassment allegations.
Hicks beat progressive opponent Kimberly Ellis in an election Saturday night at the state Democratic Party Convention in San Francisco. Hicks, who leads the Los Angeles County Labor Federation and previously worked as an organizer for Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, earned 57 percent of the vote. Ellis earned 36 percent.
Hicks says his top priority is to unify the party ahead of next year’s presidential election.
“My message to any delegate or any activist that supported any other candidate is that this is your party — this is our party,” he said. “If we want to be successful in 2020, I’m really calling on all of us to stand together.”
After traveling to all 58 counties during the campaign for party chair, Hicks says he wants to bring this message of unity to rural areas of the state with a purple voter base.
Next year, California will hold its primary election in March, months earlier than in previous years. Hicks says this is a chance for California to further define the national party’s platform.
“The largest state party in the country has an opportunity to be an example to the rest of the country of how you have a high road, robust debate of ideas amongst so many great presidential candidates,” Hicks said.
Sunday, 11:31 a.m.
Sunday Morning Presidential Candidates: Bernie Sanders, Julian Castro, John Delaney
The convention wrapped up Sunday with an eight-minute speech from Bernie Sanders, whose made appearances at various fundraisers and caucus gatherings during the weekend, but was one of the final candidates to speak to the convention hall, along with Julian Castro and John Delaney.
Sanders posed what he called the issue on everyone’s mind: “What is the best way to defeat Trump?”
His answer: “In my view, we will not defeat Donald Trump unless we bring excitement and energy into the campaign, and unless we give millions of working people and young people a reason to vote, and a reason to believe politics is relevant to their lives.”
Sanders also made a subtle dig at former Vice President Joe Biden, who did not speak in San Francisco, referring to him as “those who have chosen for whatever reason not to be in this room.” The senator is trailing only Biden in most national polls.
His speech didn’t zero-in on California issues, but the subsequent candidate, former secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro, spoke directly about the issue of police shootings of unarmed black men, and cited the death of Stephon Clark “across the bay.”
“They deserve justice, too,” he said of the victims.
Former Congressman John Delaney was the last of 14 candidates to speak — and the second to receive boos this weekend. He triggered the crowd by saying that "Medicare for all may poll good, but it’s not good policy, nor is it good politics."
At the conclusion of the speeches, outgoing party chairperson Alexandra Gallardo-Rooker told the convention hall that Biden called her this week to apologize for being unable to make it, but that he promised to attend the next state party convention this coming November.
Sunday, 10:43 a.m.
Kamala Harris Says President’s Trump’s Tariffs Take $1.4 Billion Out Of Working Peoples’ Pockets Every Month
During her convention speech, California Sen. Kamala Harris took a swipe at President Trump’s tariffs when she made the following claim:
“Let’s call it what it is. It’s a trade tax. I like to call it Trump’s trade tax. And his trade tax is taking $1.4 billion out of working people’s pockets every month.”
PolitiFact California is fact-checking Harris’ statement. But a March 2019 study by the Centre for Economic Policy Research, a European based think tank, appears to back it up, based on the effect of Trump’s tariffs in 2018, though it doesn’t say the impact was limited to “working people.”
The CEPR study includes research from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Princeton and Columbia universities.
It found: “Overall, using standard economic methods, we find that the full incidence of the tariff falls on domestic consumers, with a reduction in U.S. real income of $1.4 billion per month by the end of 2018.”
PolitiFact California has not yet heard back from the study’s authors,or Harris’ campaign, about the statement. When we do, we’ll consider placing a Truth-O-Meter rating on her claim.
Saturday, 6:35 p.m.
Saturday Afternoon Presidential Candidates: We’d List All Eight, But That Would Be Too Long A Headline
Pete Buttigieg and Cory Booker drew the loudest cheers. John Hickenlooper got booed.
It was a marathon of a Saturday afternoon session at the California Democratic Party convention in San Francisco, where more than 5,000 delegates and guests heard from eight different presidential candidates.
Buttigieg opened with warm words for the Golden State. “I feel right at home every time I come to California. Not just because of the warm welcome, but because the spirit of this state is so much like the spirit of my campaign: new thinking, bold action, a focus on the future,” said the mayor of South Bend, Indiana.
And as Elizabeth Warren did this morning, Buttigieg seemed to take aim at former Vice President Joe Biden, who’s leading in polls and skipped the convention to campaign in Ohio on Saturday.
President Trump “wins if we look like defenders of the system,” Buttigieg said. “He wins if we look like more of the same. He wins if we look like Washington. And so the riskiest thing we could do is try too hard to play it safe.”
Booker struck a similar note when he said the election was “not about one guy in one office” but “a referendum on who we are and who we must be to each other.”
“Beating Donald Trump is a must,” the New Jersey senator said, “but that is a floor, not a ceiling. We are bigger than that! We have greater ambition than that!”
Hickenlooper, on the other hand, found a very different reception — and predictably so, in this crowd of party activists.
“If we want to beat Donald Trump and achieve big progressive goals, socialism is not the answer,” the Colorado governor said, drawing the day’s first boos, which prompted him to add: “If we’re not careful, we’re going to end up helping to re-elect the worst president in American history."
He got even more boos by coming out against single-payer health care, calling instead for “a real public option.”
That reaction may have prompted the next candidate who spoke, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, to introduce himself as “the governor who doesn't think we should be ashamed of our progressives values.”
Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar cracked the convention hall up as she discussed how she’s won all her races despite starting out with less money than her opponents.
“One time, I even had to actually call everyone I knew in my life, and I set what is still an all-time record: I raised $17,000 from ex-boyfriends,” she said.
Delegates also heard from New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, and California’s own Rep. Eric Swalwell, who represents an East Bay Area district.
Saturday, 4:30 p.m.
Policy Or Electability? For One Delegate, The Choice Is Clear
It’s a question a lot of California Democrats are grappling with this weekend: Do you pick the candidate who best reflects your policy views? Or the one you think has the best shot of winning the general election?
The quote of the day may have come from Bob Vizzard, a state party delegate from the town of Newcastle, an hour northeast of Sacramento.
“I’m left of Karl Marx, so I would like the most progressive candidate, but that isn't gonna happen,” Vizzard said. “The primary thing is to defeat Trump. Whatever will defeat Trump.”
—Ben Adler and Sally Schilling
Saturday, 3:17 p.m.
Elizabeth Warren And Pete Buttigieg Appear To Take Aim At Joe Biden
A couple of presidential candidates seem to suggest that Biden is more of the status quo.
And as @ewarren did this morning, @PeteButtigieg seems to take aim at @JoeBiden: "He wins if we look too much like Washington. He wins if we look like more of the same," the mayor says of @realDonaldTrump. "The riskiest thing we could do is try to play it safe."— Ben Adler (@adlerben) June 1, 2019
An @ewarren swipe at @JoeBiden? "Some in DC think the only changes we can get are in tweaks and nudges..Some say if we all just calm down, the Republicans will come to their senses. But our country is in a time of crisis. The time for small ideas is over." (Photo: @NickMiller510) pic.twitter.com/b60mWR3hZ8— Ben Adler (@adlerben) June 1, 2019
Saturday, 1:07 p.m.
Saturday Morning Presidential Candidates: Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke, Elizabeth Warren
Despite being squarely on Kamala Harris' home turf, Elizabeth Warren drew the loudest cheers of the three Saturday morning speakers at the California Democratic Party convention in San Francisco.
"I’m here because in 2020, we have a job to do: Beat Donald Trump,” Warren told the crowd of more than 5,000 delegates, volunteers and others in the convention hall. “And to do that, we need to show what it means to be a Democrat."
Dozens of Warren supporters marched into the room just before she took the podium, the third of the three morning speakers after Harris and Beto O’Rourke, to watch the Massachusetts senator lay out her populist platform.
“Some in D.C. think the only changes we can get are in tweaks and nudges,” Warren said, perhaps an implied swipe at former Vice President Joe Biden, who leads in most polls. “Some say if we all just calm down, the Republicans will come to their senses. But our country is in a time of crisis. The time for small ideas is over."
Biden, who’s speaking today in Ohio, is the most prominent absence here. But his campaign logo is still prominently displayed on the convention sponsor list, along with those of his rivals.
Harris opened her remarks playing to her home crowd: “The thing I love about California Democrats: We are never afraid of a fight. We like a good fight. And we know right now we’ve got a fight on our hands.”
The California senator’s loudest applause line? “We need to begin impeachment proceedings and we need a new commander-in-chief!” she said.
O’Rourke, the former Texas congressman who’s struggled to gain traction in the presidential campaign after narrowly losing a U.S. Senate race last year, delivered the first minute of his speech in Spanish — perhaps an indication of some of the California voters he hopes to win over.
He then switched to English: “But to meet these challenges of the climate, of health care, of an economy that should work for everyone, we cannot meet this by half measures, or by half steps, or by only half the country.”
O’Rourke praised California for flipping seven congressional seats last year from red to blue, leading the Democratic takeover of the House of Representatives.
“You, California Democrats, have offered the rest of the country an example,” O’Rourke said, adding that “in Texas, we were right there with you.”
Saturday, 1:05 p.m.
‘Impeach!’ Chants Interrupt Pelosi Speech At Convention
Impeachment is a looming theme at the convention, despite reluctance from party leaders to take action on it.
During a speech Saturday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi touted the actions by Democratic lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives to investigate President Trump.
“Why is it that the president won’t defend our democracy from this foreign threat? What is the president covering up?” she said.
In response, a number of observers and delegates in the crowd began shouting “Impeach!”
Calls for impeachment of President Trump — from voters and members of Congress — have grown in recent days, following Special Counsel Robert Mueller press conference on Wednesday.
“Charging the president with a crime was ... not an option we could consider,” Mueller said at the press conference.
Some have interpreted these words as a suggestion that only Congress can act to hold the president accountable for alleged obstruction of justice.
Pelosi has stood firm in her position that impeachment would be politically damaging for Democrats — especially if the effort proves unsuccessful. The issue of impeachment has been characterized as a test for her leadership, one that may prove to be a dividing issue for her party.
Pelosi said President Trump “will be held accountable for his actions in the Congress,” but stopped short of mentioning impeachment as an option.
Gov. Gavin Newsom told reporters at the convention that he stands with Pelosi on the issue.
“She has the capacity of understanding of where her members are, and I have absolute confidence in her approach,” Newsom said.
Saturday, 11:49 a.m.
Presidential Candidates Wake Up Early To Discuss Womens’ Rights
Presidential candidates Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg joined House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other state politicians on Saturday morning, appearing in front of an overflow crowd at the California Democratic Party Convention’s womens’ caucus.
Candidates focused on recent legislation in states like Alabama and Louisiana that would restrict access to abortions and reproductive health care.
“These people don’t believe in family planning,” Pelosi said of her Republican colleagues.
Harris, who was greeted by a large coalition of chanting supporters, also championed a woman’s right to choose, and said she would hold businesses accountable if they do not give women equal pay.
“We are going to shift the burden to the big corporations to prove that they are paying women the same,” Harris said. She said that if there are pay disparities, they will be fined “1 percent of their profits from the previous year.”
Sanders told the Women’s Caucus that a lot of people see choice as a women’s issue. “I don’t see it that way,” the senator said. “It’s a human issue.”
Sanders also discussed equal pay. “We know women are underpaid and overworked,” he said.
Saturday, 10:47 a.m.
Meet The Energetic Crowd At The California Democratic Convention
Attendees are sharing with us what they're looking for in the 2020 presidential candidates.
Susan Blair from Lake County is one of many people rocking a spirited getup at the #cadem19 today. She’s looking for a presidential candidate that will support a woman’s right to choose. pic.twitter.com/QRpwUsa1z8— Sally Schilling (@SallySchilling) June 1, 2019
Bob Vizzard from Newcastle, a delegate at #CADem19, is “left of Marx” but he says the most important thing right now is finding a candidate who can beat @realDonaldTrump. @CapRadioNews pic.twitter.com/7kQfUK2jHM— Sally Schilling (@SallySchilling) June 1, 2019
Friday, 6:10 p.m.
Our Questions For The Delegates: What We Hope To Learn This Weekend
As interested as we are to see the presidential candidates speak in person, we’re even more interested to hear from California Democratic Party delegates, and other voters at the convention who aren’t delegates.
After all, it’s not exactly hard to find the candidates on TV. Or radio, of course. Or that thing called the Internet. (And did we mention the NPR Politics Podcast’s series of On the Trail interviews with the candidates?)
So while we’ll surely be watching the candidates to see what they say — particularly about California — we’ll be spending much of our time mingling in the crowd of more than 5,000 delegates, guests and other attendees.
And here’s what’s on our mind:
- What do you most want to hear from the candidates?
- Have you picked a candidate yet? If so, how did that person earn your vote? If you’re still undecided, how will you make your decision about who to support?
- Does the potential for California to play a major role in the Democratic primary affect your approach to selecting a candidate this time?
- What matters more to you as you pick your primary candidate: policy views or electability? Or do you believe it isn’t necessary to make that choice?
- PolitiFact California wants to know: How important is honesty and truthfulness as delegates select a 2020 candidate to support? And has this quality lost value in this ‘post-truth’ era?
- Can you name all 23 Democratic presidential candidates?
Friday, 4:41 p.m.
California Democratic Party To Host Presidential Candidate Forum In Long Beach This Fall
Acting chairperson Alexandra “Alex” Gallardo-Rooker just announced that the California Democratic Party is partnering with Univision to host a presidential candidate forum — not a debate, the party’s press release insists — this fall in Long Beach.
The forum will take place on November 16 during the party’s second convention of the year.
Gallardo-Rooker says the forum has the blessing from the Democratic National Committee but that it is not a sanctioned debate, and that none of the candidates will appear on stage at the same time. No candidates are yet confirmed.
At a press conference on Friday afternoon, Gallardo-Rooker said that Vice President Joe Biden’s camp has told her he will be in California long before November. But it has already been reported that he will not attend this weekend’s convention, as he is campaigning in Ohio.
Fourteen other Democratic candidates will speak on Saturday and Sunday.
Gallardo-Rooker became temporary head of the party after former chairman Eric Bauman resigned last December. Delegates will vote for a permanent chair this weekend, and while she says she’s raised more money for the party in six months than any previous chair, she is not running for the gig.
“A lot of people thought that I was just going to come in and be a caretaker,” she said. “That’s not my style.”
Friday, 12:32 p.m.
We’re In San Francisco With More Than A Dozen Democratic Presidential Hopefuls
As my colleague Ben Adler pointed out, Democrats vying for their party's presidential nomination typically use California as an ATM.
They’ll fly into coastal cities to attend fundraisers at major donors’ mansions. But seldom do candidates canvass the state. And that’s because California’s primary, historically later in the cycle, hasn’t been a huge factor for who will earn the nomination.
That might change in 2020.
A growing number of Californians vote by mail, and those ballots will be sent to voters the same day as this year’s Iowa caucuses, which are February 3. And the actual primary vote day jumped forward to March 3. The Golden State is now a factor.
And that’s why 14 Democratic hopefuls will speak this weekend in San Francisco at the party’s convention.
CapRadio will be there, beginning now and through Sunday. And our team of journalists will be updating this page with fresh news, interviews, observations and more.
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