Saturday, March 14, 2009

Torres parachutes away

I'm not a fan of our current CDP chairman, but if Migden can score a cush position than anybody can. This came from the CDP:

Please join me in congratulating our Democratic Party Chairman Art Torres on his selection as statutory vice chair with the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, the state’s stem cell agency created through Proposition 71. I had the privilege of attending the official confirmation hearing today in Sacramento and I was pleased to see the unanimous vote in his favor.

Needless to say, Art’s record of leadership and service is one of admiration. Throughout Art’s career in public service he has been a respected voice for the people of our state. Art dutifully served in the California legislature for 20 years, as both an Assembly member and Senator.

In his current role as chairman, Art continues to be an outspoken advocate for our Democratic Party. Throughout the years, he has continually stood up for our principles, and his leadership and guidance as chairman has undoubtedly strengthened our state party and set a precedent for the future.

I have no doubt that Art will continue his record of leadership and integrity with the stem cell agency.


Senator Dean Florez

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Mayor Newsom will be in San Diego on March 18th

We’ve got a couple of events for you during his visit:

Happy Hour Fundraiser with San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom

When: Wednesday, March 18, 4:30 – 6:00 p.m.
Where: Magnet Lounge, W Hotel, 421 B St., Downtown San Diego
Cost: $35 to attend, $250 to host (by contributing or by bringing 8 of your friends at $35)
Info: Cash bar, with happy hour specials, ample street parking available
RSVP: Email Online payment available at ActBlue

This will be one of the first times San Diegans can mingle in an intimate setting with Mayor Newsom at such an affordable price. This is a great opportunity for people to learn more about Newsom, as they decide who to support for Governor in 2010.

I’ve already posted a series about why I support Newsom here on this site. Newsom created a universal healthcare system in San Francisco, is a lion for fair and green economic development, and famously defended the true meaning of the constitution to protect equality for all Californians.

To RSVP, either email Colin Parent ( or contribute online (

Please invite your friends! This will be a fun happy hour with a professional crowd in a swank downtown hotel bar.

Folks can also come see Mayor Newsom speak at a town hall in City Heights:

Town Hall Meeting with San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom

Date: Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Time: 7:00pm - 9:00pm
Location: Monroe Clark Middle School, Auditorium, 4388 Thorn Street, San Diego, CA.

Share your thoughts, ideas and hopes for California's future with Gavin Newsom. Everyone in your family is welcome to attend, and light refreshments will be provided.

RSVP’s are encouraged at

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Why I Support Newsom: The Future of the Democratic Party in California

Mayor Newsom is the best candidate in the Democratic Party to transform the enthusiasm for Barack Obama’s presidency, and the drive to overturn Proposition 8, into a lasting political force for progressive politics in California.

I prefer Newsom for governor for a lot of reasons. For the most part, my general view is that Newsom’s imaginative approach to policy will allow him to succeed in solving problems facing California, even where the politics of the past have consistently failed.

But I am also a Democrat. I want candidate, and a governor, who is best able to lead our party as a mechanism for advancing progressive values. Obama’s campaign inspired legions of new people to become interested in politics. And the passage of Proposition 8 has spurned a whole new generation of people to believe in the relevance, and necessity of political action.

The biggest challenge for any new leader of our party will be to channel excitement for Obama, and the drive to repeal Proposition 8, into productive political action for other progressive candidates and causes in California.

Obama inspired a huge number of people to get active in politics. Obama volunteers came out of the woodwork. People who were eager for change, got our there and worked very hard for his campaign. With our state as solid Obama territory, Californians traveled to Nevada, or worked phone banks, calling voters in battleground states.

The enthusiasm for Obama doesn’t necessarily equal an enthusiasm for the rest of the Democrats. Many of Obama’s acolytes are supporters of him, individually, and have no broader allegiance to his party, or his progressive ideology. This is a natural consequence of Obama’s broad, cross-party, and pragmatic appeal. To capitalize on the wave of support for Obama, Democrats will need to present their party as a part of Obama’s overall agenda for change in American politics.

Newsom is the best candidate to present to voters a vision of the Democratic Party in California as a natural extension of Obama’s promise for a new kind of politics. Newsom’s general approach is similar to the President’s. They both promise to try new things, to experiment and utilize the tools of government to improve the lives of the people they represent. They both are careful not to promise the moon, but candidly tell voters that sometimes their innovative plans may falter and even fail. But despite that real world pragmatism, they present a view of government as productive, as progressive. They promise to persevere and continue their creative policy agendas until they get things right.

Both men speak with a kind of hope and imagination that fits their politics. Obama talks about a promise for a better America. Newsom speaks about living up to our best ideals, and advancing a kind of politics for which we can all be proud. Their language is inspiring, their rhetoric soaring. It sends a message that politics isn’t just about the nuts and bolts of policy, and the promises of the campaign trial – it’s also about the aspirations we have for ourselves as a people.

It’s also no small thing that the Newsom’s campaign team has been adopting the internet-based grassroots approach that catapulted Obama past the more established Clinton primary operation. Obama’s candidacy was a revolution in the party. He led a generational insurgency that toppled an organization that had already won, and held the White House for eight successful years. Newsom’s campaign has 30,000 supporters on Facebook, more than any but two political figures in the nation. And he’ll need them to overcome the more established candidates in the field, who have been giants in California politics for decades.

Obama supporters use Facebook, Twitter, and the rest. They’re familiar with the internet as an organizing tool. The youthful energy of the Obama campaign will be most comfortable translating itself into support for other Democratic candidates who are similarly fluent in the modern vernacular of the internet. The celebrity of national politics is a strong attraction for engaging new political interest. But that interest can be channeled to more local concerns, especially when local operations model their themselves after familiar terrain from national campaigns.

Obama wasn’t the only catalyst for political involvement in California in 2008. Proposition 8 drew in unprecedented numbers of people into the political process, including LGBT people, their allies, and those committed to civil rights in all of their forms. To many, the vote to disenfranchise a minority of California’s citizenry is a clear statement that even fundamental rights require our constant vigilance.

With Proposition 8, people didn’t just become interested in politics; politics became a part of their lives. Politics came home, in the most fundamental of ways. The fight to defeat Proposition 8 drew in huge numbers of people. But its passage, and the ratification of discrimination under the law, has jolted people with a new kind of urgency. The civil rights movement isn’t over, and civil rights are not guaranteed to all in this country. Young people especially are responding with a new sense of commitment. “Stonewall 2.0” is fueled with a kind of disciplined political militarism to roll back the repeal of marriage rights.

The fight against Proposition 8 is separate from the Democratic Party. The Party is a coalition of interests and candidates, while Proposition 8 is a discrete issue. But the Party, by and large, is fundamentally opposed to discrimination in all of its forms, and it’s against Proposition 8. The challenge for leading the Democratic Party will be to not only repeal Proposition 8, but also to enfranchise the soldiers for marriage equality into the broader Democratic agenda.

Newsom is the candidate best positioned to show to voters and activists that the Democratic Party is the party for inclusion and for equal treatment under the law. Other candidates have also done very important things for the cause of equality under the Constitution - fortunately, it’s quickly becoming a shibboleth of progressive and Democratic politics to support marriage quality. But Newsom was there first, and in the most muscular of ways. He had the power to advance equality, and he did it. That kind of “cap over the wall” vigor is a testament to leadership, and it’s the kind of bold action that generates not just good will, but dedicated followers.

Whoever wins the Democratic nomination in 2010 will be the de facto leader of the California Democratic Party. Newsom is the best candidate to incorporate the new activists and voters who were inspired by Obama, and who organized to repeal Proposition 8.

The great Willie Brown basically said all of this in July of 2008. It took me a several hundred words here to make my point, but he did it in 50.

Jerry Brown called the other day. You know that both he and Gavin Newsom are running for governor.

Jerry asked me how Gavin saw the race.

I said Gavin sees it as a replay of Hillary Clinton vs. Barack Obama.

Jerry said, "Hell, as long as I'm Obama, I'm fine."

Monday, March 9, 2009

Why I Support Newsom: Civil Rights

Mayor Gavin Newsom is well-known for ordering San Francisco to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. This sort of action was more than just a symbolic short-lived expression in support of equality. It was another example of Newsom’s willingness to use the power of his office, to make headway to solve a problem that had so far seemed unsolvable.

Marriage is a fundamental right in this country, and under our Constitution. But the common wisdom had been that people weren’t ready for same-sex marriage, and that anyway, there were statutes on the books that defined a marriage as between a man and a woman. Newsom didn’t want to be a part of an injustice, and he issued licenses anyway.

This wasn’t a bald refutation of the law. Newsom explained that he had a duty as Mayor to independently interpret the state and federal constitutions, and he understood them to mean what they say – that people must be treated equally under the law, including with regard to marriage. Statutes can’t trump constitutions, and the Mayor was duty bound to uphold the Constitution.

It’s no counterargument that courts, not mayors, ought to be interpreting the Constitution. Courts may have the final say as to the meaning of written laws, but we don’t wait for a court to tell us that U.S. Presidents are sworn in on the 20th of January – we read the Constitution and interpret it for ourselves.

Those who exercise public authority have a responsibility to ensure that they are operating in accordance with the law, the Constitution being the most supreme law of the land. Congress isn’t permitted to pass a law banning freedom of speech, not only because it would be overturned by the courts, but because Congress is required to examine its own authority, in the first instance, to determine whether or not it has the power to enact a law. If the California electorate passed an initiative saying that girls were not permitted to attend public schools, responsible school boards would undoubtedly still admit all comers. They could be confident that the law was unconstitutional, and that they had a superior constitutional duty to provide equal access to education for all students.

From the get-go, Newsom explained that he would recognize a court’s ruling if his actions were overturned. That is certainly what the rule of law requires. But it’s quite another thing to suggest that elected executives should sit on their hands and let an injustice persist, especially one of constitutional proportion.

Sometimes the only way to test a system, to see if it’s really working as it’s supposed to, is to shake it up a little. It’s not an easy thing to draw a line between when elected officials should, or should not defy statutes on the basis of their individual constitutional interpretations. But it’s a sophisticated and necessary view of constitutionalism to believe that all elected officials have an independent responsibility to conform their official acts to the dictates of our Constitution.

Newsom’s actions for marriage equality took guts. He saw something that was unjust, put himself out there, and used the powers of his office to set things right. The future of marriage equality, at least in the short term, is still in doubt. The courts and even the voters may side with Newsom and adopt a view that marriage is something that cannot be taken away from people. But equality under the law is always worthy of a spirited defense. We need leaders who are willing to take a stand for their principles, and voters ought to reward those who make such efforts.