Floor Fight! It’s On! Challenger Winograd Takes Harman to California Democratic Convention Floor

Marcy Winograd and Jim Hightower.


One of the most watched primary campaigns of 2010, and one of the most dramatic, is taking to the floor of the California Democratic Party Convention on Sunday, April 18th.

In an impressive feat against blue-dog incumbent Congresswoman Jane Harman, primary challenger and progressive Democrat, Marcy Winograd, has secured more than the needed number of votes to pull Harman’s Democratic Party endorsement recommendation and open the contest to debate today, Sunday, the last day of the convention.

This is Winograd’s second primary challenge against Harman. Her first effort in 2006 resulted in a respectable 38 percent of the vote after a short three-month campaign. Her network of supporters were as energized in 2006 as they are now. Many have worked with Winograd for years on human rights, labor, education, peace, and social justice. Some are meeting her for the first time on this campaign and are buoyed by her tenacity and commitment. In the picture below are Winograd supporters at the convention last night, readying to collect the delegate signatures to take the endorsement vote to the floor:

In a contest of Party opposites, grassroots progressive Winograd, who refuses corporate donations, has shown big money-funded Harman that being a corporate darling isn’t automatic endorsement or predestined reelection.

Despite how skillfully Harman has used her influence to lure support from her grassroots opponent, Winograd has come back fighting. It took only three days of statewide calling for Winograd to gather 329 delegate signatures (300 were needed) to pull Harman’s March 20th South Gate pre-endorsement recommendation. It took just 4 hours at the convention tonight to collect nearly 500 signatures (nearly 200 above what’s required), to force a floor fight for the Party’s endorsement on the convention’s final day.

One can be assured these delegates knew what they were doing when they gave Winograd more signatures than required by the bylaws to move Harman off the consent calendar to the convention floor. Delegates want democracy – and perhaps even change. And their choices in this race are undeniably different.

Harman vs. Winograd is the quintessential battle of opposites; conservative vs. progressive, corporate donations vs. grassroots donations, power broker vs. people power, special interests vs. people’s interests, war vs. infrastructure, war vs. jobs, war vs. education, war vs. housing, war vs. health, war vs. the environment, and on…

This contest means the difference between reelecting an entrenched incumbent politician who supports militarism and corporatocracy or electing an inspired organizer and educator who’s dedicated her life to the local community and the community at large.

Lila Garrett, radio host, progressive icon and convention delegate summed it up for me this way:

“Winograd vs. Harman is not just another ho-hum congressional election. It’s a battle to define the Democratic Party. If it is represented by a permanent war economy fed by a policy of permanent war, secret government, authoritarian rule – that’s Harman. It it’s a party whose first priorities are peace, universal education, healthcare, employment and dignity – that’s Winograd.

They [Harman and Winograd] are polar opposites. Let the Democratic party be defined by this election. Then let those of us who care what our party stands for decide whether to remain Democrats or move on. It has come to that.”

Yes, it has come to that.

Of course none of this implies absolutely that Winograd will win the fight on the floor. But she will get the welcome opportunity to let her voice and views be heard. Progressive delegates will want to hear her. Conservative delegates may not. But in a system that favors incumbents, challengers deserve every chance to level out the field.

linda_milazzo.jpgRegardless of what happens today – whether Winograd gets the Party’s endorsement or not – she’ll still be running against Harman in the primary June 8th. The same is true of Harman. If Winograd gets the endorsement, Harman in all likelihood plans to run against her. In the end, it’s the people’s opinion that matters most. It’s the constituents of California’s 36th Congressional District who ultimately decide this battle between blue-dog and progressive. Still, today’s “fight” is likely to be pretty raucous.

Stay tuned…

Linda Milazzo

Photos by Linda Milazzo

UPDATE: this just in from David Dayden at FDL

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