The terms “democracy in action” and “grassroots” are certainly overused these days, but real grassroots democracy in action was on display last Sunday, April 13, as Obama Democrats in the 30th Congressional District convened to select three delegates to the Democratic National Convention this August.
Over 640 registered Democrats in the district assembled at Rancho Park (aka Cheviot Hills) Recreation Center to make their selections from a field of more than 80 candidates, including Santa Monica City Councilmember Kevin McKeown and former Santa Monica Rent Control Board member Alan Toy. To insure a 50/50 distribution of men and women in the delegation, the 30th Congressional District selects two men and one woman, as do half the districts, with the other half selecting two women and one man. So there were really two races going on that afternoon, the men’s and the women’s, with over 40 candidates on each list.
Flyers and pamphlets were widely and wildly distributed along the line of people waiting to sign in and collect their ballots, including one flyer soliciting phone bank volunteers that contained a real sign-of-the-times message: “Please bring your fully charged cell phones. Land lines will not be available.”
Candidates worked the line, and then the room inside once it began to fill. Some voters waited to hear the candidates’ 30-second presentations, some just voted and left or stayed to socialize – it was clear that a good deal of politicking had preceded this Sunday caucus.
In the end, the caucus selected Victoria Von Szeliski (207 votes), Bob Vanderet (209), and Shayne Adamski (180), all of whom ran as a slate endorsed by “California’s largest grassroots organization for Barack Obama, LA Grassroots 4 Obama.”
Similar caucuses were held for both Obama and Clinton delegates throughout the state. Democratic Party Chairman Art Torres said, “Since I became Chair of our great Party in 1996, I have never seen such an incredible outpouring of Democratic activists at congressional district-level delegate selection caucuses. More than 23,000 Democrats showed up Sunday afternoon to support more than 2,500 candidates vying for 241 slots.”