Presidential Candidates & Other Dems Descend On Long Beach For The California Democratic 2019 Fall Endorsing Convention

This past weekend, the California Democratic 2019 Fall Endorsing Convention took place at the Long Beach Convention Center and Amandla! covered the event as part of the official press corps, which included media entities such as CNN, ABC, Univision and others.  According to the California Democratic Party, “the CDP State Convention is the largest gathering of active Democrats from around the State. …[with] more than 3,000 delegates registered representing more than 8.9 million registered Democrats across California.”  Approximately 5,000 “delegates, guests, observers, volunteers, staff and media” were expected to attend the event which also featured numerous presidential candidates.  Eight candidates participated in the “Real America Presidential Forum” including Corey Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Julián Castro, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, Tom Steyer and Andrew Yang. Presidential Candidate Kamala Harris At CADEMS press gaggleCandidates Marianne Williamson, John Delaney, Joe Sestak and Deval Patrick also attended.  Interestingly, neither Joe Biden nor Elizabeth Warren attended.

There was a great deal of excitement outside of the convention, where one could see many signs supporting various candidates, including a lone Trump supporter and a Tulsi Gabbard supporter (at least when Amandla! arrived earlier in the day).  However, the energy inside the convention was loud and exciting as many groups canvassed for their particular presidential candidates and issues.  Presidential Candidate Corey Booker At CADEMS press gagglePresidential candidates Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders supporters appeared to have the most people campaigning for them throughout the convention, and their supporters gathered information, distributed placards and other swag to convention goers.  Pete Buttigieg supporters were also visibly present doing the same.  However, other presidential candidates such as Yang, Castro, Harris, Booker, Steyer and Klobuchar, while clearly having supporters at the event, did not appear to have as much on the ground campaigners walking around the convention center, at least when Amandla! was walking about on the floor.

Congresswoman Maxine Waters was also at the event and was often mobbed by convention attendees who lined up and vied to get a picture with her.   Congresswoman Maxine WatersThe main exhibition hall also had numerous, different booths set up for candidates such as Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Kamala Harris and Maxine Waters.  There were also booths for organizations raising awareness such as NARAL (The National Abortion Rights Action League), CAHSDEMS (California High School Democrats),  The Nineteenth DC and other groups.  Presidential Candidate Pete Buttigieg At CADEMS press gaggleThere were also advocates for particular causes who wore t-shirts advocating for their particular causes and local candidates, such as those advocating for Palestinian human rights by JVP Action (an arm of Jewish Voice for Peace), gun control by Moms Demand Action, Los Angeles District Attorney 2020 candidate, Richard Ceballos (the whistle-blower in the important U.S. Supreme Court Case, Garcetti v. Ceballos running on a progressive platform), the Rental Affordability Act (“The rent is too damn high” group), California for Consumer Privacy and other groups.  One woman wore a Moscow Mitch/Moscow Bitch shirt, that depicted Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump respectively.

Beverly Porter, a supporter of  candidate Ada Briceño who is runnig for the DNC,  said that she attended the convention because she “is interested and invested in trying to get our country back on track.  She was looking forward to candidate discussing healthcare, environmental issues but said that there is no number one issue that was more important than the other.  “There are all number ones, all my issues are number one.”  Ms. Porter said that Kamala Harris, Corey Booker, Peter Buttigieg were her top four candidates.

Beverly Porter at CADEMS

Another forum attendee, Violet, said issues she hoped would be discussed were “rent control, …police brutality and also… the killings in the jails in San Diego.”

As to whether any candidate has spoken the best about the issues she is most concerned about, Violet said “I haven’t been able to choose anyone yet, there is too many in the field and I have to wait until I hear more.”

Ms. Violet at CADEM

The fact that Joe Biden failed to attend was interesting.  According to Necola Adams, who ran for Mayor of Merced, CA in 2016 and who has attended three prior CADEM conventions, “he wasn’t missed.  There was no asking, where is Biden? He missed the largest African American caucus meeting that I’ve been to, …and he’s missing some of the key places that he should have been but no one was missing him, she said.  “Even though he is polling, he is polling with a lot of the older African Americans with a nostalgia and its the Obama [memory]…clearly in the South, here in the North, I don’t think he would be polling that high and especially with people 40 and under he’s not polling that high, and so again, he is not making the connections that he should and this was a missed opportunity for him to come and speak to the California state Black Caucus and that is a large Caucus and we have newly elected people that are in this Caucus from the president on down that were sworn in today.  He should have been here.”

Necola Adams at CADEMS

Amandla! and other members of the press, including CNN, ABC, NBC and other mainstream and independent press assembled in the press media room during the Presidential Forum to ask questions of the candidates.  Candidates Kamala Harris, Julián Castro, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Tom Steyer, Andrew Yang and Cory Booker took questions.   Kamala Harris answered questions thoughtfully and came across as direct and strong.  Julian Castro seemed to be the most available and earnest of all the candidates as he answered each question posed to him thoughtfully and even remained afterwards his turn at the press conference to answer more questions of journalists who met him outside the immediate press area; he was also willing to take pictures with everyone who asked.  Interestingly, Pete Buttigieg was asked the most questions pertaining to race and how he is not polling well with African Americans.   Oddly, no such questions were asked of Amy Klobuchar, who while focusing quite a bit on farmers and the Midwest voter, seemed to dodge questions or answer them in a roundabout way.  Presidential Candidate Tom Steyer At CADEMS press gaggleAmandla! asked Tom Steyer a question about what he will do to hold police accountable for acts of brutality and he was asked questions about homelessness, Proposition 13 and other issues.  Questions to Andrew Yang seemed primarily to focus on environmental issues, though he did respond thoughtfully to a question about the recent high school campus shooting in Saugus, CA.  Corey Booker was very engaging and in responding to a question, delivered riveting final speech about the need for Democrats to come together, no matter who the Democratic nominee is.

After the Presidential forum, various caucuses gathered to discuss issues specific to their constituency, including the African American Caucus, Filipino American Caucus, Progressive Caucus and others.  Amandla! attended the Progressive Caucus where Presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Julian Castro spoke.  The Bernie Sanders’ contingent was very energetic, motivated and even a bit rowdy (in a fun way).  Julián Castro’s crowd was also very energetic and clearly moved by his platform and he received a standing ovation.  Candidate Castro was also mobbed by audience members who milled around him and it seemed that he graciously took pictures and interacted thoughtfully with everyone.

Moscow Mitch/Moscow Bitch
Dylan K. Little, Photographer

Overall, the convention was exciting, informative and motivating.