Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Are the Dems Eating their Own in California?

This top-two primary thing has us all in a quandry.  Two easily winnable races by Dem incumbents in the California State Assembly were lost last year due to a combination of redistricting (they had to move into s newly created district, which encompassed only a small proportion of the District they were currently serving), top-two primary (in predominantly Dem Districts this means two Dems squaring off against each other), heavy hitting Chamber of Commerce and agri-biz interests, with hidden donors, out to get the more moderate and "business friendly" Dem elected, and just possibly lack of smart targeting in their campaign messages.

An article in Cal Buzz highlights the role of big business and power brokering back room Democrats in the defeat of the two incumbents, "by working through shell vendors, sharing valuable data and personnel and failing to report their spending until they were exposed months later."

The right is aligning itself with moderate Blue Dog Dems to sneak its agenda in a now two-thirds Dem majority Legislature. Not good for labor, consumers or, in this case especially, farmworkers, whose cause was championed by the two ousted incumbents, causing Big Ag to hit them hard in nasty independent expenditure ads.

Still, the lesson may be that local trumps all, and that is what we hope to see more of in the future.  Campaigns that micro-target to show the connections between the newly redistricted legislator and the District s/he know serves.

In the case of the10th AD, where progressive Michael Allen had to woo Marin County voters, it should have been an easy sell.  His progressive bills, and long history of working for workers' rights, small business, and consumers' interests were a good fit for the new portions of the District, but the message wasn't clear. The newbie moderate Dem who touted his "local" cred as well as wooing Reps, hit the target big time.  It just shouldn't have happened that way.

Honing that laser-sharp focus is the path of the future. Getting into the District early and often, holding events, and highlighting your achievements for their benefit. Use testimonials from locals and graphically illustrate your commitment and connection with all parts of the District.This, to my admittedly biased view point, is the right way to make friends and influence voters. If they never get to know you, why should they vote for you?

Otherwise, watch out California, you may soon have a legislature full of DINOs, and a two-thirds majority that is Democratic in name only.