California Democratic Party Tries to Gut the Left

Those are people in the proposed Progressive leadership team; it’s some speakers at today’s meeting.

Here’s what’s happening today in a fancy, expensive ballroom in a lustrous Downtown Los Angeles hotel: members of the Progressive Caucus (of which I am one) will select its news leadership team (of which I am not). Progressive Caucus Members had expected to be able to vote remotely (as permitted by caucus and CDP Bylaws), were a few days ago informed that are being required to show up in person to vote — regardless of where the live in the state — to fend off an attempted takeover of this principled and hard-headed caucus in favor of a slate of candidates handpicked by leadership to turn the caucus into a more obedient and less critical corner of the party.

About those politicians standing with the current Progressive Caucus leadership and style (which include both Barbara Lee and Katie Porter), outgoing Chair Amar Shergill wrote:

The courageous progressive leaders in the graphic at the top of this email are standing with us because they know that the Progressive Caucus is the conscience of the California Democratic Party and the only place where we truly hold our Party accountable when we fail to adhere to Democratic values. This special purpose of our Caucus cannot be served by those that want unity at any cost or those that build alliances with fossil fuel corporations at the expense of communities of color on the frontlines. Many people call themselves progressive, but very few are willing to hold the line in the face of political pressure and even to their own political detriment.

The members of the Troublemaker Slate are not in this fight to get personal accolades or to move up the political ladder. They are fighting because they believe in a better future for all of us. I am the father of three great kids and I am in this fight because I fear they may inherit a nation and planet worse off than the one my generation inherited. The Troublemaker Slate is doing everything they can to make a real difference for future generations and I endorse every one of them.

Why are the people in CDP leadership pissed at the progressives in the Progressive Caucus? Here’s an example of something written by outgoing Caucus Chair Shergill wrote last year:


(from left to right Rep Torres, GOP Hagman, Sen. McGuire, Asm. Wood, GOP Howards, OC Rep. Correa, OC GOP Sheriff Barnes)

And here’s Shergill’s more extensive explanation of what happened — which no doubt make it to the officers:

CDP abandons courage and embraces hypocrisy by refusing to take action against Delegates that endorse Republicans.

In a truly shocking move by CDP Officers, the Party has decided to ignore its own values and Bylaws in order to protect California Democrats who are publicly supporting Republicans against their fellow Dems. In response to the Progressive Caucus filing charges against several California Democrats who are supporting Republicans in races across the state, the Party has chosen to hide behind unwritten Bylaws in order to block a hearing and dismiss all Statements of Charges, protecting Democrats working with Republicans to defeat Democrats. 

Our accountability campaign against GOP-endorsing Democratic elected officials could have been resolved a lot of different ways, but fabricating new Bylaws in order to protect Republicans was definitely not on our list of possible outcomes. We would have preferred that Party leadership have conversations with the GOP-endorsers and suggest they rescind their endorsements but Party leadership clearly went a different direction.

The Party will say that this was the wrong forum and that their hands are tied but this belies all of the other avenues available to the Party to address this matter. By dismissing these charges while not pursuing any alternative course of action, the Party has chosen to approve, endorse, and even further encourage Democrats who are supporting white nationalist, fascist platforms. Teenage girls – children – are currently being tracked down and arrested for seeking reproductive healthcare. Democracy is under threat by white nationalists and religious fascists. These are the core policy ideals that Republican candidates stand for – and the Party is pretending it has no voice or platform to advocate from.

Therefore, we immediately call upon Party leadership to denounce each Democratic endorsement of a Republican in the November 2022 election.  The Democrats on the ballot deserve to be supported by their State Party, not opposed by a GOP-Dem cabal. If the Party truly does disapprove of these actions, it is an easy ask. The choice is theirs. The power is theirs. The responsibility is theirs.

See the links below for the Party’s decision letter and the response letter from the Progressive Caucus:

8/10/22 Caucus response to CDP Dismissal of Statement of Charges
8/10/22 CDP Dismissal of Charges
8/08/22 Caucus Statement of Charges #2
7/25/22 Sacramento Bee reporting
7/20/22 Caucus Statement of Charges #1

In other words, Shergill went right at them and told the inconvenient truth. He wrote again about the situation at hand:


Let’s be clear. The Party regularly permits Caucuses to have remote meetings and to vote remotely but there is, of course, a preference for in-person meetings. Here’s what the CADem Bylaws say, “It is the express preference of This Committee that meetings should, when possible, be held in person…” An in-person meeting with remote voting clearly falls within this provision.

Dozens of online Caucus meetings have been held and remote votes cast under this Bylaw provision without any objection from the Party or even any significant discussion about it. Some Caucuses are meeting online to elect Officers for this Convention. The Party is even using online voting for its Officer election.

The reason that the Progressive Caucus is not being permitted to use remote voting is because the Party fears the organized voice of our members. If you would like to have your voice heard, please attend the Convention in person to vote. The future of the Caucus as the moral conscience of the Party is at stake.

[Edited to add: It may seem ironic to people for me to be joining a call for exclusion of state party delegates who endorsed Republicans, given that I was kicked out of party leadership for … endorsing a Republican, Todd Spitzer, for DA. Let me explain the differences. That was a race in which I had supported a Democrat, Brett Murdoch, in the primary — whose candidacy failed in part because another candidate, Lenore Albert, came in later to split the Democratic vote, In other words, I did not support a Republican against a Democrat, but against someone whom I considered a worse Republican Tony Rackauckas, who I had reason to believe would eventually hand over the job to yet another even worse Repulican, Huntington Beach City Attorney Mike E. Gates, who was far young than Spitzer. But the more significant reason was that CDP had no authority for that race! (They justified their move by, essentially, saying that I was on double-secret probation and that their lack of jurisdiction in the race didn’t matter.) The worse injustice was done to Norma Alcala, who was kicked out at the same time for supporting a Republican who switched parties after her endorsement, and she retracted the endorsement when she found out about it. So there was precedent (including the later expulsion of Chris Duvali) for taking this sort of action. The party leaders’ response was that these people are ex officio members as opposed to regular members, so they can’t be expelled. (Although the first person expelled from the DSCC, San Diego County (and Nazi) Tom Metzger, was also an ex officio.) Maybe so, but they have the ability to take away their vote at conventions, prevent them from sending an alternate, and most importantly prevent them from appointing other delegates to the Democratic State Central Committee. Of course hey would not punish them that way because appointed delegates from these Republican-stooges will almost always favor the party leadership — and will not criticize them for selling out to corporate interests.]

(OK, enough about me.)

Now I know that this blog is read by many people who hate progressives as well as those who support them (or in the case of non-Democrats, despise the corrupt party leadership more than the Bernie/AOC faction under attack here.) That’s why I’ve held off on publishing this post until it’s (likely) too late for our “Correa Caucus” them to make it into Downtown LA to add to the packing of the crowd. (Some writings by corporate Dems who can’t shut up, like Jorge Gavino), suggest that that sort of organizing has already been done. But we won’t know until later!)

Here’s a partial schedule of what’s going on tonight:

Caucus Election Is Now

 A Message from our Election Supervisor, Sudi Farokhnia
 The Party has reversed the Caucus decision to utilize remote voting. The meeting and election will proceed on the following approximate timeline:

5:30pm Welcome
5:34pm Guest Speakers
6:02pm Election introduction
6:06pm Voting begins
Chair: Fatima Iqbal-Zubair, Shannon Ross
Bay Area Vice-Chair: Adrianna Zhang, Cherelle Jackson, Mel Shuen Mallory 
Central Vice-Chair: Denise El Amin, Neel Sannappa
Southern Vice-Chair: Jacob Haik, Katie Chan, Kayla Asato, Maricela de Rivera 
Membership Officer: Vinnie Bacon
Northern Vice-Chair: Hatzune Aguilar, Helene Rouvier
Communications and Media Officer: Jenny Lynn, Victor Ibarra
Parliamentarian: Anissa Raja, Emma Jensen
Treasurer: Eric Warmoth, Irene Huerta
Secretary: Lauren Bier, Mickey Chavez

Additional information provided by the candidates is available at this link, including candidate statements. Please click through to get to know the candidates and their values.
All right, but who’s on which slate? You can almost always tell by who showed up to the Candidate Forum — and who didn’t.

On May 13, Caucus At-Large Officer Tonya Love hosted an engaging and informative Candidate Forum for the Caucus Officer Election. Video is at this link with candidates appearing in the following order:

Chair: Fatima Iqbal Zubair, (Shannon Ross did not attend or send a surrogate)

Vice Chair Northern California: Helene Rouvier, (Hatzune Aguilar did not attend or send a surrogate)

Vice Chair Bay Area: Mel Mallory, Adrianna Zhang [Zhang is the only candidate who showed up, is not on either slate], (Cherelle Jackson did not attend or send a surrogate)

Vice Chair Central California: note: troublemaker caucus supports Sannappa, but not clear he showed

Vice Chair Southern California: Katie Chan, Kayla Asato, (Maricela de Rivera and Jacob Haik did not attend or send a surrogate)

Secretary: Lauren Bier, (Mickey Chavez did not attend or send a surrogate)

Treasurer: Eric Warmoth (via surrogate Fatima Iqbal Zubair), (Irene Huerta did not attend or send a surrogate)

Communications Officer: Jenny Lynn (via surrogate Emma Jenson), (Victor Ibarra did not attend or send a surrogate)

Parliamentarian: Emma Jensen, (Anissa Raja did not attend or send a surrogate)

But enough about the audacious troublemaking of outgoing Chair Amar Shergill! What is his proposed successor Fatima Iqbal Zumair all about? Here is her statement about the pusillanimous Party Leaders’ charge that the Progressive Caucus has been “divisive”:

A Message from Progressive Caucus Chair Candidate Fatima Iqbal-Zubair
“It may be true as Martin Luther King Jr. once said, that the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice. What is equally true, however, is that most of the time we have to forcibly bend it with our own hands.” – Thomas Linzey, Executive Director, Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund.

As Chair of the Caucus, I will advocate for the California Democratic Party to be unequivocally united for justice, not in words, but in action. Only if we do this, can we be best equipped to fight against threats to our democracy and rights in far-right corners of our own state, and across the nation. This is why…it is not divisive, when California has some of the worst pollution in the nation, to demand cutting our Party’s ties to oil money and holding Democrats who take oil money accountable;

it is not divisive, when the percentage of American workers who are members of a union fell by 10 points in the last two decades to an all time low, to   demand holding billionaires and corporations accountable for paying their fair share;

it is not divisive when we call out Democrats who don’t believe healthcare should be a human right, when hundreds of thousands people in our state don’t have any health coverage;

it is not divisive when we call out corporate funded Democrats for stalling progress in the legislature when, in the richest state in the nation, we still have the largest income and wealth inequality gap;

it is not divisive when we demand the California Democratic Party stop taking law enforcement money and be accountable to systems of care and investment in vulnerable communities;

it is not divisive to hold accountable Democrats who choose to value profits over people, voting against working class people and BIPOC communities;and It is not divisive when we hold delegates accountable to their track record and votes in the California Democratic Party.

None of these things are divisive; instead it is being honest and accountable to the most vulnerable in our state, above anything else. Holding the California Democratic Party accountable to values of justice makes our party stronger– not weaker. It makes us true to what we say we stand for. It ensures our party works for us, not the select few.

As a teacher who continues to fight for her first generation students in South LA, As a mother to who advocated for her special needs son to have a public school experience that ensures he will thrive, As an immigrant who believes that every immigrant -regardless of status- deserves to lead a life of dignity, As a resident of a district with the largest refinery on the West Coast, one of the largest oil fields, and some of the worst systemic racism. As an environmental advocate in Sacramento who pushes for transformative climate policy,As a former candidate who challenged a Democratic incumbent whose record did not match the needs of our working class community, I have always been on the side of people over profits. Even when it was not popular or easy, even when I was told to step aside, even when it was extremely difficult, I’ve always courageously stepped in to fight for justice.And this is what our slate stands for. We are not afraid to take on the tough fights to make our party work for every single one of us. We believe that delay in action is denial of justice. We are not okay with another life lost, simply because we were too afraid to act now. If you vote for us, we will continue to have a Progressive Caucus that will courageously and compassionately lead the charge to defeat Republicans, and build coalitions for justice for women’s and reproductive rights, for the LGBTQIA+ community, for immigrants, for environmental justice, for housing as a human right, and more. 

Solidarity to the people always, Fatima
So we’re losing a lawyer — but we may be gaining a teacher!

I’ll be liveblogging the event as best I can, though I expect to miss the speakers due to traffic and parking. The corporate Democrats, though, may only have to walk down from their hotel suites without inconvenience — largely, I suspect, paid for by their donors! While their are some other caucuses that are largely progressive — Environmental, Women’s, LGBT, various Ethnic, and Labor Caucuses, for example — the Progressive Caucus is the only one with a broad portfolio of all political issues, both inside the CDP and its constituents parts and in the broader political world.

That makes it a thorn in the side of CDP’s largely bought-off and bossed leadership. We’ll see if they succeed, tonight, in pulling the pointy end off of that thorn and discarding it.

About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-disabled and semi-retired, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally ran for office against jerks who otherwise would have gonr unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Corrupt party hacks hate him. He's OK with that too. He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.) His daughter is a professional campaign treasurer. He doesn't usually know whom she and her firm represent. Whether they do so never influences his endorsements or coverage. (He does have his own strong opinions.) But when he does check campaign finance forms, he is often happily surprised to learn that good candidates he respects often DO hire her firm. (Maybe bad ones are scared off by his relationship with her, but they needn't be.)