Saturday, February 18, 2006

At the Lamorinda Club (Part 1)

I’m going to Los Angeles today but before I left I want to give a brief report back from the Lamorinda Democratic Club’s candidate forum last night.  I’m going to discuss how the candidates did in my next piece, but I want to mention two things before that.

First, I was approached by a number of people at the meeting who wanted to discuss the blog post I put up yesterday.  Almost none of them actually read my blog.  Instead one reader (or I know of one at least) had read my post and e-mailed it to some of the more active members of the Lamorinda Club.  Everyone who spoke to me about it validated my belief that the optics of the Contra Costa County Central Labor Council’s endorsement of Filson were bad.  It just did not look kosher to anyone.  And even folks who are not very involved in the anti-Pombo effort, including people who are not supporters of Jerry McNerney, told me that what had happened was deeply disturbing to them.  

Also, and I’m still considering this part of the first item, I was told that the spin from the pro-Filson camp in the CCC-CLC was that Filson was not present in the room when the vote was taken.  If anyone had thought that my objection was to his presence when the vote was taken, consider yourself disabused of that notion.  

The problem was that the vote was taken right after a meeting with Filson that excluded the other candidates.  The problem was that the normal endorsement process was not followed. And because of that, the process that was undertaken had an in-built bias for Filson.  On top of that, there was never any transparency (in fact, there was an active attempt to dissemble) about the process that the CLC was actually going to follow.  So the endorsement process was rigged in Filson’s favor and an attempt was made to hide that it was so rigged.  

The upshot of all of this was that a candidate with significant support from allies of Labor was treated unfairly and disrespectfully, which will be taken by some of those allies in the Democratic Party grassroots as a statement about Labor’s respect (or lack thereof) for the grassroots.  And consequently, the very base of support in Contra Costa County upon which any successful anti-Pombo effort will be waged, has been undermined. And to my mind, all of this was needless as inviting Jerry McNerney and Steve Thomas would have most likely led to the same end result (the CLC endorsing Filson) without raising the type of problems that have been caused by what happened on Wednesday night.

Second, and on a completely different topic, an announcement was made that Pete McCloskey will be participating in an anti-war march and rally on March 18th.  Somewhat ironically, that’s the same weekend as the DFA grassroots training in Stockton, so a lot of anti-Pombo activists aren’t going to be able to see McCloskey speak.  But I have heard McCloskey be very eloquent about the disaster that is our policy in Iraq.  So I bet we’ll see another round of media pieces on McCloskey around that event.  And I assume he’ll be able to pick up some more support from folks who attend the rally and realize that he’s running against Pombo.  



Anonymous Rick said...

Perhaps this comment will be more relevant to the post about the candidates, but my observations of the forum are as follows:

Jerry McNerny: He looked tired and came across as lethargic. Got flustered at various points and made some obvious gaffes (e.g., saying that the U.S. invaded Iran instead of Iraq). His opening statement and responses to questions came across as disjointed and lacking a coherent message. McNerny also didn't inspire a lot of confidence in his motives when he stated that he jumped into the 2004 race because no one else was running against Pombo. Somewhat related, his campaign "scented" of the room with dozens of McNerny signs and flyers posted on the walls. This looked tacky and amateurish and gave the appearance that the forum was rigged in his favor.

Steve Thomas: A natural public speaker (his voice has an uncanny resemblance to Harry Reid) who came across as sincere and genuine in his beliefs, but utterly unelectable. Some of his most pointed statements came awfully close to sounding like far-left conspiracy theories (i.e., at one pointed he stated that the neo-cons have drawn plans to invade all of the countries in the Middle East). Overall, he came across as an idealist who was out his element.

Steve Filson: It's apparent he’s been to candidate school. His statements were short, punchy, and easy to understand (i.e., sound bites), he made repeated use of personal stories of both himself and people he's met, and his stage presence was superior to the other candidates. It was also apparent that he is more centrist than McNerny and Thomas, a fact he played down in response to several questions, most notably Iraq. His closing statement was terrible--he recycled that awful bit from the Morgan Hill Democratic Club speech that has been previously posted here about how he knows the district (e.g., "Do you know who the million dollar man is? [Explains Neil Diamond’s appearance in Stockton]...You have to know the local issues if you're going run for Congress") For a guy who has the resources he has access to, surely someone must have told him that a). he is pointing out the obvious, and b). it comes across as condescending.

However, closing statement aside, Filson came across as the only one of the three who was ready for "prime time." He was the only candidate who avoided the self-deceiving trap of proposing to impeach the president (As an aside, it's ironic to see how many Democrats forget how wildly unpopular the Republican impeachment of Clinton was) and it's clear that his views are more in line with the mainstream of CA-11 than McNerny or Thomas. I went into the forum with an open mind and I am now squarely in the Filson camp now.

1:15 PM, February 18, 2006  

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