In recent posts in other threads, two opposing views for the state of Democratic Party in SJ Country have emerged:
Here is Matt:
One big reason [for McNerney's big loss in San Joaquin County] is the complete and utter lack of an effective Democratic Party infrastructure in the county. Margee Ensign said she was considering running in 2004 but there was nobody in SJC to help her. She wasn't kidding. The Democratic Party has consistently allowed the grassroots infrastructure to deteriorate in that area. Except for recent events, some of which were complete due to the McNerney Campaign of 2004, the Democratic Party has written SJC off.
(Note, I know that there are Democratic elected officials in SJC, but it's pretty clear that they're more interested in running their own machine than in building the party. This, at least, has been a common opinion voiced to me).
And here is Jesse:
Matt, I fundamentally disagree with your description of the San Joaquin County political infrastructure and the people that play a role in it. But I don't know that I care to respond to your generalizations and opinions about the motivations of people. I respect your right to hold these opinions.
But, I will make these comments about my perception of the Democratic party in San Joaquin County. I was raised in one of the poorest areas of Stockton. I've lived in the 11th Congressional District since I returned to the area in 1988. I have not been politically active in recent years for personal reasons. Over the years, however, I have been politically active in partisan and non-partisan races. I think that I know enough about the people in the Democratic party here to form an opinion and disagree with you.
Matt, I believe that any serious candidate would be able to mount a campaign in this District for any partisan or nonpartisan race.
So which is it? Is the Dem party in San Joaquin effective and organized or not? There is obviously some organization. There are currently 74,534 registered Democrats in the 11th District part of the county (versus 92,692 Republicans). The San Joaquin County Democratic Party lists nine local clubs. Two state legislative seats in the county are occupied by Democrats -- State Sen. Mike Machado and State Assemblywoman Barbara Matthews. Also, the 18th Congressional District, which includes part of SJ County, is represented by Democrat Dennis Cardoza.
But probably the Dem Party could grow over there and become more of an influence. The Dem voter registration has lagged in the county, with 4,000 new Dems versus 13,000 new Repubs since 2000. Maybe interest groups that would tend towards Democrats have not been approached -- student and youths, immigrants, labor, environmentalists, etc. Maybe Republicans have been more effective in the voter registration drives.
One glaring point is that there are 74,534 Dem voters in the county, but in the 2004 election, McNerney only got 47,515 votes in that county. Where were the other 25,000 voters? Pombo, by contrast, got 96,183 votes when there were only 92,692 registered Republicans.
That would seem to mean the party was not sufficiently organized and effective to bring the vote out for McNerney. Interestingly enough, Sen. Barbara Boxer, a Dem, won the county by 51%.
I don't know what to conclude from all that. I am putting up this thread not to state what I know, but more that I don't really know to what extent how organized and effective the Dem party is in SJ County. I hope some people can comment, and then offer suggestions for building the opposition to Pombo through the Dem Party there.
For example, I have received emails from people in the East Bay who want to head over to SJ and help the party organize, with voter registrations and tabling, etc. Is there an infrastructure that would welcome these volunteers and be able to put them to good use?