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CA-36: Party Endorsement Floor Fight Liveblog

OK, so we’re on to the endorsement for Jane Harman. And this is a crackup. CDP Chair John Burton has kind of lost control of the thing. More in a minute.

Here’s the deal. Burton rushed the question on the endorsement to the floor, asked for whether there would be speakers on behalf of Winograd and Harman, and didn’t hear that there were. Then he called the question and nobody knew what the question was. Then he got hot and yelled at people who didn’t understand. He called the question again, but then Winograd and her supporters asked to speak again. Burton chided them for not getting their act together but allowed them to speak.

John Burton really isn’t interested in the party business stuff and it shows.

OK, Winograd is up. She said she’s challenging “Bush Dog Democrat” Jane Harman, citing the bankruptcy bill, and Harman trying to knock down the warrantless wiretapping story in the New York Times. “You have the power to change history, right here, right now!” she concludes.

…Karen Bernal, the chair of the Progressive Caucus, frames the issue as an establishment versus outsider. “The era of unquestioned incumbency is over… we must consider what we stand for.”

…Daraka Larimore Hall, a delegate, says “for our endorsement to mean something, it has to be withheld sometimes. The voters will decide, but the party’s endorsement should mean something, and we can’t always give it away no matter what.”

…Now, the pro-Harman forces will speak. A delegate from Redondo Beach says that Harman supported the public option and helped to get “the best bill she could” through Congress. Ringing endorsement!

A better argument is that Harman got over 86% of the vote from the local endorsement conference.

…Not sure who’s up now, but she claimed that people who wouldn’t sign the Winograd petition to pull the endorsement were called racists. (!) She said “War is an issue for us but it’s not the only issue.”

…Eric Bauman, the Vice-Chair of the party, spoke in support of Harman, saying that the local district’s decision should be sustained, and while he is a friend of Marcy Winograd, Harman should be supported and not have her endorsement overturned.

…an Orange County delegate says that the endorsement should not be overturned because it wouldn’t be fair. Actually, Winograd has actually worked completely within the rules here.

…We’re now about to have the final vote on the floor on this endorsement. This will require a majority vote to sustain the local caucus endorsement.

Burton is not really paying any attention to this. He let the counters get the count for about 20 seconds, not nearly enough time to count 1,900 delegates. “He doesn’t care, he doesn’t take it seriously,” a delegate just told me. “Shame on him.”

…We’re finally working our way through this, with the count going through. Should have a result in a few minutes. A quick scan of the room makes it look like to me that Harman will garner the endorsement, but we’ll see.

…The final count was 599 for Harman, 417 for Winograd. This means that Harman will receive the state party endorsement. Party Chair John Burton says “I do not believe the volunteers were bribed, couldn’t see, whatever.” He adds, “Next time organize in your own caucus and win it… how many people think Siskiyou County should vote on who should be the Congressman in Los Angeles?” A bit gratuitous.

In a statement, Jane Harman said, “My opponent’s attempt to thwart the will of Democrats from the 36th CD was correctly viewed as a corruption of the process. I am pleased that delegates from throughout the State have affirmed what the delegates who have worked with me and who know me best have decided.”

…I just talked to Marcy Winograd about this. She said that she was pleased to have substantial grassroots support for her challenge, though she came up short. In the future, she would prefer to see a less chaotic process – there was some concern that entire regions of delegates were not counted at all. As for John Burton’s comments, chiding Winograd from the dias, she called them “inappropriate.”

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David Dayen

David Dayen