Applegate Holds the Hill Against Levin, and Other CDP Results

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(1) Col. Applegate Holds the Hill

Every candidate has his or her base.  For Col. Doug Applegate, it’s a mix of grassroots populist activists and military families.  For Mike Levin, it’s denizens of corporate boardrooms and members of the party establishment.

The CDP convention is dominated by party establishment figures, so the endorsement vote here was a battle where Applegate was playing defense.  At stake: prestige and buzz, of course, but also a ban on members of party central committees from supporting the endorsee’s opponent and the party being able to channel as much money as it wished into the endorsee’s race, including identifying the winner as the one and only officially endorsed Democratic candidate, which holds sway with a lot of voters.

The question was whether Levin could reach the magic 60% threshold.  He didn’t.  Applegate held the hill; the delegates cannot even reverse the “no consensus” result on the convention floor tomorrow.  Now the battle moves to much more favorable terrain for him — competing for the favor of garden-variety voters who don’t much care for party politics (or, often, for either party itself.)

Chumley spread the false rumor yesterday — because that is part of what at least his stripe of PR professional does — that Applegate was ready to fold his tent.  It was a dumb gambit then and it looks even dumber (and more desperate) today.  A better prediction might be that Levin, having failed to consolidate his base despite high-pressure tactics, will gracefully bow out of the race.

A better prediction than Chumley’s, yes — but that’s an atrociously low bar.  Of course Levin won’t withdraw; his backers don’t do that sort of thing.  The question is whether he’ll pitch in to help Applegate win in November, if he’s the only Dem to make the runoff, or whether he’ll sit on his hands (as he did in 2016) because his backers want no Democrat to win this seat except their kind of Democrat.  Hopefully not — but I won’t make a prediction.

(2) Rouda Challenges Another Keirstead Win

Hans Keirstead beat Harley Rouda (and the better alternatives to both of them) handily at the pre-endorsement conference — and it happened again here today.  (Less of a margin, though, as I understand it.)  Rouda railed against party leaders last time — which is actually pretty funny, as he’s no grassroots populist — and as I write his operatives are trying to get enough signatures to take the matter to the floor.  There are a lot of reasons to want to do this — allowing supporters of the doomed candidates I prefer to campaign for their own choices; making Hans answer for his apparent dallying with the dreadful Lenore — but in this year where we face so many possible R-on-R runoffs there’s a stronger argument for not overriding the decisions made by people in the district.  A party endorsement isn’t always determinative; Rouda (and others) can try to work around it.  And if it helps to drive others out of the race, it will have served a purpose.  But mostly, for me, it comes down to not wanting to spit in the face of my fellow delegates in that district who have, for reasons I don’t entirely understand, reached a consensus that I probably not have joined.

(3) Min Squeaks By; Porter Tries to Reverse the Result

As I understand it, Dave Min got exactly 60% of the endorsement vote today.  I’m no fan of Min’s, but neither am I fan of Porter’s, and none of the candidates I like more than either seem likely to have a shot.  So, again, while I find Min far more dismal than Keirstead in CA-48, I’m inclined to defer to the people in the district and on the ground and not sign a challenge that strikes me as spitting in their faces.

If I liked Porter more, I would sign, but her vicious attack after the pre-endorsement conference lead me to the conclusion that, while she was Elizabeth Warren’s student, there were some critical lessons — involving discretion, grace, and class — that she failed to learn from her mentor.

[Adding results released Sunday morning]

(4) Feinstein Skunked by DeLeon, 54-37

In the endorsement vote for U.S. Senate, Kevin DeLeon fell only six points short of winning endorsement in the race outright, receiving 54 votes to Feinstein’s 37.  The other 9% were distributed among leftist candidate Pat Harris and a vote not to endorse.  This means that delegates are free to support whomever they want in the primary and the party will not be spending its own money on either candidate.  Feinstein, who would be 90 at this point in the next cycle, is still considered the favorite for institutional and financial reasons, but this rebuff comes as a blow to her prestige — an embarrassment that the party’s leaders had actively tried to avoid.

(5) Nobody Likes Villaraigosa

Some pundits are going to say that they were not shocked by this, but I certainly was: Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa finished a distant fourth in this endorsement race, with a humiliating 9%.  He can’t claim to be a progressive being shunned by party leaders, given the success of two of his rivals, nor can he claim that it’s an anti-Latino thing, given the success of DeLeon.  It’s an anti-Villaraigosa thing.

Presumed front runner Gavin Newsom underperformed expectations at 39%.  The good news for him, though, is that reformers did not coalesce behind a single candidate, with 30% supporting cautious-spending progressive John Chiang and 20% supporting free-spending Progressive Delaine Eastin.

(6) Padilla  and Lara Close Out Their Progressive Rivals

Incumbent Secretary of State Alex Padilla smothered his infinitely preferable — I can still say that, as the endorsement hasn’t yet been ratified — challenger, election security maven Ruben Major.  Influential State Senator Ricardo Lara held off far superior (see above) challenger Dr. Asif Mahmood to get the nod for Insurance Commissioner.

(7) Dave Jones outperforms incumbent Xavier Becerra for AG

(8) Eleni Koulinakis Ties Sen. Ed Hernandez for Lt. Gov Nod, Despite Some Misplaced Progressive Scorn


About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose worker's rights and government accountability attorney, residing in northwest Brea. General Counsel of CATER, the Coalition of Anaheim Taxpayers for Economic Responsibility, a non-partisan group of people sick of local corruption. Deposed as Northern Vice Chair of DPOC in April 2014 when his anti-corruption and pro-consumer work in Anaheim infuriated the Building Trades and Teamsters in spring 2014, who then worked with the lawless and power-mad DPOC Chair to eliminate his internal oversight. Occasionally runs for office to challenge some nasty incumbent who would otherwise run unopposed. (Someday he might pick a fight with the intent to win rather than just dent someone. You'll know it when you see it.) He got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012 and in 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002. None of his pre-putsch writings ever spoke for the Democratic Party at the local, county, state, national, or galactic level, nor do they now. A family member co-owns a business offering campaign treasurer services to Democratic candidates and the odd independent. He is very proud of her. He doesn't directly profit from her work and it doesn't affect his coverage. (He does not always favor her clients, though she might hesitate to take one that he truly hated.) He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)