Skip to comments.* 2004 California Democrat State Convention reports *
Posted on 01/17/2004 3:16:11 PM PST by CounterCounterCulture
Lockyer apologizes for `frat boy' description (booed for voting for Arnold) *** Calif. Democrats Pledge to Re-Elect Boxer (Bush officials compared to vegetables) *** State Demos fix sights on 2004 (Lyndon LaRouche Jr. stages sit-in) ***
Posted on Sat, Jan. 17, 2004
Standing before a large group of skeptical Democratic women, Attorney General Bill Lockyer apologized Friday night for describing allegations that Arnold Schwarzenegger had sexually harassed several women before he became governor as ``frat boy behavior.''
``Anyone that I offended I apologize to,'' Locker told more than 300 women gathered at the San Jose Convention Center for the annual state Democratic Convention. ``It was the wrong choice of words and I recognize that.''
The attorney general and prospective candidate for governor in 2006 has come under fire from fellow Democrats since he admitted last fall that he broke ranks and voted for Schwarzenegger in the recall that ousted Gov. Gray Davis.
At that time, Lockyer downplayed as misguided ``frat boy behavior'' allegations that Schwarzenegger had groped or mistreated nearly two dozen women.
``I frankly screwed up and used the wrong language the wrong way,'' said Lockyer, who was briefly booed and jeered after mentioning his vote for the Republican actor.
Lockyer said he had no regrets about voting for Schwarzenegger, who has been criticized by other Democrats for proposing deep cuts to higher education and social services to balance the budget.
Posted on Sat, Jan. 17, 2004
SAN JOSE, Calif. - A noticeably subdued group of California Democrats opened its annual convention Saturday, pledging to re-elect Sen. Barbara Boxer and defeat President Bush in November.
But the recall race that bounced Democratic Gov. Gray Davis in October in favor of Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger cast a long shadow across the convention hall. It left speakers struggling for a message to motivate activists after the party's most humiliating defeat in years.
"Our governor may have been recalled, but our party has not been. Our governor may have been recalled, but our values have not been," Party Chairman Art Torres told the gathering of 1,600 delegates.
Democrats, who at last year's convention celebrated a sweep of all statewide offices in the 2002 election, tried to cast a positive light on their newly diminished status. They still hold all other statewide offices and control both houses of the Legislature.
Attorney General Bill Lockyer tried his hand at humor with a slide show comparing various Bush administration officials to vegetables. He depicted Bush political strategist Karl Rove as a clove of garlic.
"He's a bulbous operative whose smell is everywhere," Lockyer said.
But State Treasurer Phil Angelides, a likely candidate for governor in 2006 who has positioned himself as an aggressive opponent to Schwarzenegger in recent weeks, called the recall "the elephant in the room" that Democrats were reluctant to discuss.
Other Democrats agreed the party must confront its lessons.
"The loss of the governor's office was a staggering blow to this party - there is no other way to put it," Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi said in an interview. "We need to go back to fundamental principles, develop alternative programs and let people know where we stand on important issues."
Speakers took aim at Schwarzenegger's budget proposal, which proposes major cuts to social service programs, including health care and welfare.
"Character is determined by actions, not words," said Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, who lost badly to Schwarzenegger in the recall election. "When the governor presented his budget, we saw his true character."
Democrats are divided over how to address Schwarzenegger's key priority: a $15 billion bond measure to pay down the state's debt that will be decided by voters on the March 2 ballot.
"It is not the right thing to do, but we have yet to develop an alternative," Garamendi said.
Posted on Sat, Jan. 17, 2004
By Dion Nissenbaum
California Democrats gathered in San Jose on Friday to put last fall's stinging loss of the governor's office behind them and turn their sights on the even tougher battle ahead: reclaiming the White House in November.
With President Bush leading all challengers in national polls, choosing the strongest one is a top priority for the 1,600 delegates who converged on the San Jose McEnery Convention Center.
Most of the presidential candidates opted out of the convention as they prepare for the crucial first battles Monday in Iowa and Jan. 27 in New Hampshire.
Only Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio turned up to deliver a passionate appeal for support.
``Let this convention be the beginning of a resurgence of this party,'' Kucinich told about 300 Democrats. ``Let this convention be a new beginning for the people of America.''
This week's Field Poll showed former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean holding a comfortable lead over his closest challenger, retired Gen. Wesley Clark, although the contest is expected to narrow before the state's March 2 primary.
Dean has established himself as the front-runner by building an energized grass-roots team that has won over many of the party leaders.
Clark's son, Wesley Jr., moved through the meetings Friday night with a pitch for delegates to support his father.
Speaking to young Democrats who have provided Dean with much of his support, Clark, 34, urged the liberal activists to consider which candidate has the best chance of winning moderate voters in November.
But Dean supporter Rep. Loretta Sanchez of Orange County dismissed the conventional wisdom that Dean is too liberal, too untested and too candid to defeat Bush this fall.
``He is energizing people; he's bringing a new group of people into the process and we cannot run the same campaign we have run over and over,'' she said. ``We will lose that way to George Bush.''
The convention got off to a raucous start Friday when 100 supporters of perennial presidential candidate Lyndon LaRouche Jr. staged a sit-in in the convention hall after being shut out of the young Democrats' meeting.
Organizers said they barred the LaRouche activists because they disrupted last year's meeting.
Today, the convention focus will turn to state races. U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, a Republican target whose re-election is the state party's top priority, will address the delegates.
Democrats will also hear from leaders looking to fill the power vacuum created when Democratic Gov. Gray Davis was ousted in last fall's recall. Davis will be honored for his two decades as a party leader, but most eyes will be on the new leaders vying to run for governor in 2006: State Treasurer Phil Angelides, Controller Steve Westly and Attorney General Bill Lockyer.
It's a secret ;-)
Ya!!! That recall was a heck of a lot of fun even with the intense flame wars here!
I think we need to do it again with some of the far left demoncratic legislatures!!!
Former Gov. Gray Davis edged back into the political spotlight Saturday, telling a cheering crowd at the state Democratic convention that "the Democratic Party will have better days.''
It was one of Davis' first public appearances since he was ousted from office in the Oct. 7 recall election and replaced by Republican actor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
"It's good to be among friends," Davis said as he was greeted with a standing ovation from more than 1,500 party delegates at the San Jose Convention Center. "Last year, as you know, I had a few ups and downs. How was your year?''
Davis, who was joined on the podium by his wife, Sharon, came to the convention at the request of Art Torres, the state party chairman. But the former governor also said that he was eager to thank the party faithful for the years of support they gave him.
"You didn't hesitate, you stood up for us, you stayed the course," he said. "It's been an honor to work with you for the past 30 years.''
Davis spoke briefly and didn't touch on the budget problems Schwarzenegger has been forced to deal with. But in a conversation with reporters before his talk, it was hard for him to disguise the satisfaction he took from the new governor's effort to get a handle on the state's finances.
During the recall campaign, Schwarzenegger talked about how the budget could be balanced by trimming fat, eliminating fraud and making judicious cuts. But after going over the financial numbers, Schwarzenegger proposed borrowing billions of dollars to close the budget gap, just as Davis had.
"People who were expecting some magic wand to wave away the budget problems were probably disappointed," Davis said. "There are only three ways to close a budget gap: borrow more, raise more or cut more.'' He did give Schwarzenegger a boost by saying that he would probably support Proposition 57, the $15 billion budget bond measure.
"The proposition is probably the best available option," he said. "It's the best of bad choices.'' But while Davis looked relaxed and rested after his forced retirement last October, other Democratic leaders are still scrambling for position in the wake of Schwarzenegger's victory. There was sniping and posturing aplenty as California's top elected Democrats each took a turn in front of the convention crowd.
Attorney General Bill Lockyer drew a smattering of boos when he rose to speak. Lockyer, who announced after the October election that he had voted for Schwarzenegger over Democratic Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, didn't even touch on state issues during his 10-minute talk, instead focusing his attention on President George Bush and national concerns.
Bustamante wasn't so circumspect. In a biting parody of the "Top Ten'' list that Lockyer typically uses in his political speeches, the lieutenant governor listed "The Top 10 reasons Bill Lockyer voted for Arnold Schwarzenegger instead of me." He suggested, with little humor in his voice, that the attorney general backed Schwarzenegger because "he was concerned that I'd replace the California Golden Bear with the Taco Bell Chihuahua" and that "I'd open a drive-thru DMV office in Tijuana.'
"We know the difference between a Democrat and a Republican,'' Bustamante said, adding that the time has come for Democratic leaders "to put aside childish games and personal ambition.'' The fireworks brought a nervous Torres to the stage.
"That was a good payback speech," he told Bustamante. "Now I hope you can get together and work things out.''
There was plenty of other finger-pointing.
State Treasurer Phil Angelides suggested that "some star-struck Democrats seem to believe that the real lesson of Schwarzenegger's election is that Democrats should behave more like Republicans.'' Democrats have to be willing to stand up for what they believe in, he said.
"The election of an attractive, seemingly popular Hollywood star has already sent some Democrats scurrying for cover," Angelides said.
Speaking to reporters after his talk, Angelides declined to name names.
"People can make their own judgments," he said.
State Controller Steve Westly faced complaints from Democrats when he agreed to serve as co-chair with Schwarzenegger on the campaign to pass the Prop. 57 bond measure. But that didn't stop him from taking shots at the governor's financial plan.
"I saw the new budget and it turned out to be 'True Lies II,' " he said. "Arnold Schwarzenegger has turned his pumped-up back on the people of California.''
But California voters didn't get off unscathed as Democrats searched for answers to their landmark recall loss.
"The reason why Arnold Schwarzenegger is governor today is because Democrats voted for him," said former Assembly Speaker Herb Wesson, D-Los Angeles. "But this is no time to be spellbound by some movie star.''
Democrats have to realize that they lost badly last October and that the party is going to have to show some deference to Schwarzenegger's popularity, added Carole Migden, a former San Francisco assemblywoman who now heads the state Board of Equalization. But that doesn't mean the fight is over.
"Without asking, our state and our party got an extreme makeover," she said. "Maybe we need to hit the tanning salon. Maybe we should be doing more pushups.
"But one thing's for sure -- we won't let anyone take away money from our kids just because they're a Hollywood movie star.'' The convention's loudest cheers were for U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, who is running for a third term in the Senate. Her re-election is priority one for California Democrats, who hope to show that Schwarzenegger's election was an aberration and not the beginning of a trend.
"Boxer is the most underestimated senator in the nation," Torres said.
"Every six years (Republicans) think they're going to defeat her and she just comes up taller than ever.''