8th Assembly District Battles Causes Waves For Pre-Endorsement Conference to the Democratic Party

On Thursday March 13, 2008 the local area of the Democratic Party will hold its Pre-Endorsement Conference for recommendation of candidates for State Democratic Party endorsement. Those candidates who achieve the necessary amount of votes from Designated Representatives or Eligible Voters (delegates) will have their names placed on the Consent Calendar at the Democratic State Convention which convenes at the end of the month in San Jose.

At stake primarily is the endorsement battle for the contested primary in the 8th Assembly District between West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon and Yolo County Supervisor Mariko Yamada.

According to a party official, the delegate process is somewhat complex, much like that of the national party. There are elected delegates from each County Central Committees and the Assembly District Committee. There are also delegates who are only able to vote in the Pre-Endorsement portion of the endorsement process but not during the convention. These delegates come from local clubs such as the Davis Democratic Club, the West Sacramento Democratic club and the Northern Solano Democratic Club.

A candidate that receives 70% of the Pre-Endorsement Conference vote goes to the Consent Calendar for approval by the Convention Delegates. It can be pulled from that Consent Calendar and debated under certain circumstances. If a candidate receives between 50% and 70% of the vote at the Pre-Endorsement caucus, their nomination must go to the floor of the Democratic State Convention for approval there. Finally, if no one gets over 50% of the vote, there is no endorsement.

It is these delegates produced from the local Democratic Clubs that have led to a source for both dispute and manipulation from the campaigns for the 8th Assembly District.

As recently as last summer, the Democratic Club in West Sacramento was small in membership numbers.

Complaints from the Yamada Campaign drew my attention to the fact that almost overnight the West Sacramento Club has 760 members and therefore is eligible for 38 delegates.

According to Mariko Yamada’s Campaign Manager Brian Micek:

“We received a list of certified delegates from the California Democratic Party. It shows 38 delegates from the West Sacramento Democratic Club, meaning they have an active roster of 760 ¬ making it, in theory, by far the strongest Club in the region. According to these numbers, West Sacramento has surpassed Davis as the engine of Democratic politics in the region.”

The Davis Democratic Club has long been one of the premier clubs in the region, but now in terms of membership it has been surpassed by the West Sacramento Club.

How did this happen? We asked Christopher Cabaldon’s Campaign Manager Robbie Abelon.

According to Mr. Abelon:

“The week before and leading up to the February 5th Presidential Primary, the West Sacramento Democratic Club did a large phone bank every weekday to high propensity Democratic voters asking them if they will be voting in the Presidential Primary. If they said yes, the caller would thank them for their participation in the Democratic party and asked if they’d like to continue their activism by joining their local club. If they said no, we asked them to consider voting because the November 2008 election is very important and asked if they wanted to do their part in helping the Democratic party by joining their local club.

For every time they explicitly said yes, we marked them down and filled out a membership form for them. Also, when we were walking for Christopher in West Sacramento, we asked the high propensity Democrats to join the club as well after we made the regular campaign pitch.”

Robbie Abelon further informed me that the phonebanking was not done using Christopher Cabaldon’s name. However, once an individual agreed to be a member of the club, the payment for that membership was made from Christopher Cabaldon’s mayoral campaign account.

There have been suggestions that the Mariko Yamada campaign was likewise practicing similar tactics.

One such question focused on the Northern Solano Democratic Club, most of whose officers are supporting Supervisor Yamada. One of that club’s members, Jeniffer Green-Hawkins received a $5000 check from the Yamada campaign as reported in the campaign’s December 31, 2007 FPPC financial filings, and this payment drew questions.

According to Brian Micek:

“Jeniffer Green-Hawkins has a monthly retainer and is a regular staff member of this campaign. She is responsible for coordinating outreach events and volunteers. She also did our opposition research (a public records search that included voting and attendance records, as well as statements of economic interest) ¬ she is a bargain compared to the professional firms we received bids from, one of whom declined to talk to us because it was already working for the Cabaldon campaign. We have never asked Jeniffer to do a membership drive for the NSDC, however she is an active member of the club. That is how Mariko got to know her and her interest in working on Mariko’s Assembly campaign.”

According to Mr. Micek and independently verified by a Democratic Party Official and a roster that we received of the delegates, the Northern Solano Democratic Club has but two delegates. Certainly not a number that would draw suspicions.

Of greater concern is our own Davis Democratic Club. The Vanguard spoke with Club President Arun Sen and he confirmed that he was unaware of the delegate process until he received a call from Mariko Yamada inquiring into the delegation.

According to Mr. Sen, this was the first he was aware of it. The call occurred in early February and was just before the deadline to submit the names of the delegates to represent the club.

In the past, the delegates have come from the leadership of the club. Not this time. Arun Sen tells the Vanguard that he and fellow club member Bob Bockwinkel selected the 12 delegates. According to Brian Micek these delegates were selected in consultation with the Yamada Campaign.

The fact that not all officers of the club nor its executive board were informed of these decisions is concerning in terms of an open and transparent process. These twelve members selected by Mr. Sen and Mr. Bockwinkel all appear to be Mariko Yamada supporters: Sheila Allen, Shelly Bailes, Corky Brown, Rick Gonzales, Tony and Rhonda Gruska, Teresa Kaneko, Ellen Pontac, Jim Provenza, Julia Sanchez, Arun Sen, and Richard Yamagata.

All of these are good Democrats, fine individuals, and most of them are even personal friends. However, the process in which they were selected is opposite of a fair, open, and transparent process that we should expect from the Democratic Party and any of it’s affiliated organizations including clubs. Not on the list were a number of Davis Democratic Club officers and board members who are not Mariko Yamada supporters.

Arun Sen told me that unfortunately he did not have a lot of time to make a decision. That is understood, but since the club is not bound by the Brown Act, the President has more latitude with regards to serial meetings than the Central Committee Chair would have. Mr. Sen could have easily emailed or phoned the entire Davis Democratic Club Board of Directors to inform them of the Pre-Endorsement Conference and gain their consent to allow him and Mr. Bockwinkel the authority to appoint the club’s delegates. He instead chose to work solely with Mr. Bockwinkel and the Yamada Campaign in selecting who would represent the Club without informing the entire elected board.

According to the Democratic Party Official that I spoke with, complaints have been lodged with the party and a decision will be forthcoming in the next few days as to what action if any will be taken.

The Vanguard will monitor this situation and will provide updates as they become available.

—Doug Paul Davis reporting

Author

  • David Greenwald

    Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

    View all posts

Categories:

Elections

108 comments

  1. So did the West Sac club make the phone calls or did the Cabaldon campaign? And how much of a “member” are you if you don’t know you’ve been signed up?

  2. So did the West Sac club make the phone calls or did the Cabaldon campaign? And how much of a “member” are you if you don’t know you’ve been signed up?

  3. So did the West Sac club make the phone calls or did the Cabaldon campaign? And how much of a “member” are you if you don’t know you’ve been signed up?

  4. So did the West Sac club make the phone calls or did the Cabaldon campaign? And how much of a “member” are you if you don’t know you’ve been signed up?

  5. So much for the Democratic Club in either jurisdiction. I’m beginning to not like either candidate.

    Who is running from the Republican side?

  6. So much for the Democratic Club in either jurisdiction. I’m beginning to not like either candidate.

    Who is running from the Republican side?

  7. So much for the Democratic Club in either jurisdiction. I’m beginning to not like either candidate.

    Who is running from the Republican side?

  8. So much for the Democratic Club in either jurisdiction. I’m beginning to not like either candidate.

    Who is running from the Republican side?

  9. I will now not be voting for Cabaldon. I’m done with politicians doing stuff like this. Why not just sign our names to petitions and vote for us on election day and get rid of the hole pesky convince the voter process? The behavior during the election does not change once the person wins. This twisting of the process will be viewed as acceptable practice. I don’t approve.

  10. I will now not be voting for Cabaldon. I’m done with politicians doing stuff like this. Why not just sign our names to petitions and vote for us on election day and get rid of the hole pesky convince the voter process? The behavior during the election does not change once the person wins. This twisting of the process will be viewed as acceptable practice. I don’t approve.

  11. I will now not be voting for Cabaldon. I’m done with politicians doing stuff like this. Why not just sign our names to petitions and vote for us on election day and get rid of the hole pesky convince the voter process? The behavior during the election does not change once the person wins. This twisting of the process will be viewed as acceptable practice. I don’t approve.

  12. I will now not be voting for Cabaldon. I’m done with politicians doing stuff like this. Why not just sign our names to petitions and vote for us on election day and get rid of the hole pesky convince the voter process? The behavior during the election does not change once the person wins. This twisting of the process will be viewed as acceptable practice. I don’t approve.

  13. DPD: Cabaldon’s scheme to pack the convention is indicative of his political ethos of business-as-usual political “corruption” and contempt for the process. Putting Davis’ activities in the same article with Cabaldon’s schemes plus suggesting that something similar MAY be going on in Solano County for the Yamada campaign appears to create an equivalency that is not borne out by your facts(the reader’s own political “nausea-meter” tells the tale),

  14. DPD: Cabaldon’s scheme to pack the convention is indicative of his political ethos of business-as-usual political “corruption” and contempt for the process. Putting Davis’ activities in the same article with Cabaldon’s schemes plus suggesting that something similar MAY be going on in Solano County for the Yamada campaign appears to create an equivalency that is not borne out by your facts(the reader’s own political “nausea-meter” tells the tale),

  15. DPD: Cabaldon’s scheme to pack the convention is indicative of his political ethos of business-as-usual political “corruption” and contempt for the process. Putting Davis’ activities in the same article with Cabaldon’s schemes plus suggesting that something similar MAY be going on in Solano County for the Yamada campaign appears to create an equivalency that is not borne out by your facts(the reader’s own political “nausea-meter” tells the tale),

  16. DPD: Cabaldon’s scheme to pack the convention is indicative of his political ethos of business-as-usual political “corruption” and contempt for the process. Putting Davis’ activities in the same article with Cabaldon’s schemes plus suggesting that something similar MAY be going on in Solano County for the Yamada campaign appears to create an equivalency that is not borne out by your facts(the reader’s own political “nausea-meter” tells the tale),

  17. Just a quick correction – the Brown Act does NOT bind the Central Committee. Central Committees are not local agencies of the government, which are the only bodies bound by the Act. Although Central Committee members are quasi-public officials, they are not governmental officials within the meaning of the Act because they are elected to do the party’s (and not the people’s) business. An Attorney General’s opinion settled this in 1976. See 59 Op. Atty Gen. Cal. 162. Instead, the Central Committee only must follow the procedures prescribed by the state party and its own by-laws.

    Hope this helps. Great scoop.

  18. Just a quick correction – the Brown Act does NOT bind the Central Committee. Central Committees are not local agencies of the government, which are the only bodies bound by the Act. Although Central Committee members are quasi-public officials, they are not governmental officials within the meaning of the Act because they are elected to do the party’s (and not the people’s) business. An Attorney General’s opinion settled this in 1976. See 59 Op. Atty Gen. Cal. 162. Instead, the Central Committee only must follow the procedures prescribed by the state party and its own by-laws.

    Hope this helps. Great scoop.

  19. Just a quick correction – the Brown Act does NOT bind the Central Committee. Central Committees are not local agencies of the government, which are the only bodies bound by the Act. Although Central Committee members are quasi-public officials, they are not governmental officials within the meaning of the Act because they are elected to do the party’s (and not the people’s) business. An Attorney General’s opinion settled this in 1976. See 59 Op. Atty Gen. Cal. 162. Instead, the Central Committee only must follow the procedures prescribed by the state party and its own by-laws.

    Hope this helps. Great scoop.

  20. Just a quick correction – the Brown Act does NOT bind the Central Committee. Central Committees are not local agencies of the government, which are the only bodies bound by the Act. Although Central Committee members are quasi-public officials, they are not governmental officials within the meaning of the Act because they are elected to do the party’s (and not the people’s) business. An Attorney General’s opinion settled this in 1976. See 59 Op. Atty Gen. Cal. 162. Instead, the Central Committee only must follow the procedures prescribed by the state party and its own by-laws.

    Hope this helps. Great scoop.

  21. There are 760 organized Democrats in West Sacramento? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. For the good of the Party, we wish, but no way.

    Davis folks worked for Mariko because she’s been there with us as an active Democrat. Cabaldon had to pay the memberships of this phony club. If that’s not a metaphor for the difference between the two, I don’t know what is.

  22. There are 760 organized Democrats in West Sacramento? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. For the good of the Party, we wish, but no way.

    Davis folks worked for Mariko because she’s been there with us as an active Democrat. Cabaldon had to pay the memberships of this phony club. If that’s not a metaphor for the difference between the two, I don’t know what is.

  23. There are 760 organized Democrats in West Sacramento? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. For the good of the Party, we wish, but no way.

    Davis folks worked for Mariko because she’s been there with us as an active Democrat. Cabaldon had to pay the memberships of this phony club. If that’s not a metaphor for the difference between the two, I don’t know what is.

  24. There are 760 organized Democrats in West Sacramento? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. For the good of the Party, we wish, but no way.

    Davis folks worked for Mariko because she’s been there with us as an active Democrat. Cabaldon had to pay the memberships of this phony club. If that’s not a metaphor for the difference between the two, I don’t know what is.