The several political or at least politically tinged events we attended this week showed us that the momentum for change is running fever pitch here in Los Angeles. Clearly, chickens have come home to roost for the woeful Bush Administration and the failed right-wing policies supporting it. Democratic candidates up and down the slate stand to benefit.
Lined Up on the Sidewalk in Pasadena
At Friday night’s opening of Pasadena’s United Democratic Headquarters (UDH), folks were lined up six deep on the sidewalk out front on Lake Avenue to hear the likes of LA County Democratic Party Chair Eric Bauman, Congressional candidate Russ Warner, and State Senate candidate Carol Liu rally the overflow crowd.
John Gallogly, our friend on the UDH steering committee, said that fund-raising for the headquarters has gone so well that his powerful group is considering supporting a “Red Counties” strategy, renting buses to take precinct walkers from Pasadena out to Palmdale or Riverside or other outlying regions to help Democratic candidates win races in traditionally Republican districts.
“Look at all these people. We’ll get more volunteers than we can use here in Pasadena,” John said. “If we could pick a couple places not too far away, we could make a difference there, too.”
Our Northeast Democratic Club is working on opening its headquarters in Highland Park. Tony Scudellari and club president Bill Rumble are selecting a location, probably somewhere on Figueroa Avenue, and heading up fundraising efforts. Although our section of Los Angeles is about as blue as blue can be, turnout is often quite low—just 7% for one recent city council race. Rather than pursue a “Red States, Red Counties” strategy, our club will focus on engaging more of the local populace in the electoral process.
Already, several key Democrats — Assemblymembers Kevin de Leon and Anthony Portantino, LA Councilmembers Ed Reyes and Jose Huizar — have kicked in to fund the headquarters, but there are fewer deep pockets here than in Pasadena, so we’ll need to rely on smaller home-based fundraising parties.
Stepping on the Roses in Lafayette Square
Thursday night, we attended a barbecue for State Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, hosted by Reggie Jones-Sawyer, whose spacious lawn was packed with Democrats from throughout Southern California. Organizers were expecting 50 guests, and the turnout was easily double that.
Sharon ran into Linda and Bobby Jones, old friends from two decades ago when they organized BAPAC — Black American Political Association of California — in the San Fernando Valley. Linda, a school board member in Palmdale, is running for the open Assembly seat in the 36th Assembly District—one of those traditionally Republican strongholds that are in play in this very hopeful year.
Bobby, a high school teacher and minister in Palmdale, says the Bush Administration’s mortgage crisis, soaring gas prices, and economic downturn have hit his region especially hard. “Even with the long commute, lots of people moved out there because they could afford to buy. But now every block has an abandoned house,” he said. “People are looking for a change — people who wouldn’t have thought to vote for a Democrat in the past.”
We eagerly signed up to help Linda’s campaign, either by organizing a fund-raiser here in Mt. Washington or by getting a bus full of precinct walkers out to her district.
While at the event, we ran into another candidate for the California Assembly, John MacMurray. MacMurray is running in the 72nd A.D. This north Orange County district has a growing Democratic population but he could use some help. If you are in that area, lend a hand.
We also ran into Cynthia Loo and Lori Ann Jones, two Superior Court candidates we’ve come to know in recent months. Sharon is halfway through her law studies at the People’s College of Law — where Cynthia serves as a volunteer law professor — and our surveys have shown that LA Progressive readers are especially thirsty for information about judicial races. Because we support these two candidates, we’re planning a fund-raising event for them as well. Look for more on that in coming weeks.
Around the political speeches, we also talked with Henry Vandermeir, president of the California Democratic Council, and Ahjamu Makalani, Brad Parker, and David Sonnenborn from the state party’s Progressive Caucus about ways we can ramp up our work on the CDC’s newsletter and support communications for the Progressive Caucus.
The Rub, of course, is time. We’ve both got pretty demanding day jobs and kids to raise and commutes to make. In this fabulous year, with its real hope for fundamental political change — yes, we know Obama supported the FISA bill, but we think we know why, too — we could find progressive political activities to occupy our every single waking moment. (Friends do ask if we ever sleep.)
But we think we’ve got something going here with the LA Progressive, something that both feeds our own burning need to support change in our society and also — at least to judge from the response we get everywhere we go—supports others in making that change happen.
So, we’ll keep looking for ways to leverage our e-zine and weekly digital newsletter, forming alliances and recruiting new writers wherever we can (check out our new Florida correspondent, Dick’s Dad).
We also will keep looking for ways to make this enterprise at least pay for itself. You see on our website that we’ve got Google and Amazon ads in place, but we’ll need lots more traffic to the site for that to cover our costs. We’re also thinking of approaching compatible progressive political candidates and officeholders for display ads on our site and in our newsletter. It seems that they might want to reach our audience.
In the meantime, we’re having a ball — though we’ve just agreed that one night a week, each and every week, will be “romance night.” Just us. No email. No articles. No phone calls. So don’t bother us that night, whichever night that turns out to be.
Dick Price & Sharon Kyle
Editor & Publisher, LA Progressive
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