Category Archives: Democratic Party

State Sen. Bill Dodd: The effort to recall Governor Newsom is ‘a sham’

Senator helping fund ‘Vote No’ mailers

The mailer funded by Sen. Bill Dodd spotlights the Arizona man with the furry hat and horns at the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol attempted take-over. (Courtesy photo)
By Richard Freedman, Vallejo Times-Herald, August 18, 2021

State Sen. Bill Dodd’s recent bout with vertigo has nothing to do with the dizzying feeling he gets seeing the number of names — 46 — on the California Gubernatorial Recall Election ballot hitting mailboxes this week.

Not that Dodd, a former Republican, is concerned about potential replacements for Gavin Newsom. It’s the two boxes — “Yes” and “No” — he’s focusing on, backing up his support of the Democrat governor with a $75,000 mailer campaign.

The state’s Department of Finance says the recall election is costing taxpayers roughly $215.2 million — money Dodd believes “would go a long way of funding so many projects like improving Highway 37. There are so many needs. The idea we’re going to spend it on a sham recall effort doesn’t rise to the level of what I call good government.”

Just short of 1.5 million verified signatures were needed to trigger a statewide ballot. The state verified roughly 1.6 million signatures.

Recall organizers claim government overreach has led to dissatisfaction with Newsom’s leadership. They cite his executive order to phase out gasoline-powered cars by 2035 and rolling power outages to prevent wildfires, among other issues. They also cite a number of issues surrounding his handling of the coronavirus.

“There are a lot of people out there for some reason or other want to support this recall,” Dodd said by phone. “It’s my firm belief that a lot of things that have gone on — COVID-19, wildfires, utility shut-offs — since he became the chief executive officer of this state would happen no matter who is the governor of the state. He had little or no control over those things happening.”

Of the 22 million registered voters in California about 10 million (or 46%) are Democrat and 5 million (24%) are Republicans. The remaining 6.5 million (30%) are independents or registered to other parties, according to the most recent Report of Registration from the California Secretary of State released in February.

Newsom was elected in 2018, beating Republican challenger John Cox 61.9 % to 38.1%.

The thought of a sitting governor with that overwhelming a victory losing his job to someone with a comparatively minuscule portion of the vote on a crowded ballot doesn’t sit right with Dodd.

State Sen. Bill Dodd, D-3, Napa. (Courtesy photo)

“They (recall supporters) are counting on this as their ‘January 6 opportunity’ to overturn the government, but doing it through a recall,” Dodd said, alluding to the failed takeover of the U.S. Capitol.

“This is what happens when either party can go too far,” said Dodd. “These are reactionary times.”

A main figure of that Capitol insurrection, an Arizona man wearing U.S. flag colors face paint, a furry hat and horns, is featured prominently on Dodd’s “Vote No” mailer. Another version of the mailer includes a photograph of the U.S. Capitol building from Jan. 6.

“His point is that the same people who stormed the Capitol are the same people who want to recall Newsom,” said Dodd spokesman Paul Payne.

Dodd is banking on the registered voter party difference to secure Newsom’s remaining term, set to end in January of 2023. Endorsed by Newsom in the 2016 state senate election, Dodd funded the mailout — “Are You Going to Let Them Win?” — as a reminder to vote and vote “No.”

“I think if the people of the state of California turn out and vote on this, I don’t think the chances are very good he will get recalled,” Dodd said. “I think we need to peel back the onion a little bit and stop and think what has been accomplished in terms of policies on climate change, trying to get a handle on the homeless, our budgets and what we’re investing in.”

“I ask that people just vote and let their voices be heard,” Dodd said, believing that “organizers of this recall see this as an opportunity to use COVID-19 and some of these other issues to try and move him out. They have a much better chance of getting someone elected through a recall than with a traditional election.”

Dodd believes recall supporters are counting on the heavy Democratic advantage to be distracted by the pandemic and forgo voting.

“If we don’t vote, we let them potentially win,” he said. “We know that if Democrats and independents vote in large numbers, this recall will fail.”

Dodd declined to speculate how a failed recall could backfire on Republicans.

“I’m not looking for a pound of flesh after this. For me, it’s about having them fail on this issue,” he said. “I’m happy to debate them or work with them on other issues that make sense for everyone who lives in the state or certainly in my district.”

Dodd believes there needs to be “some narrow criteria, whether a governor, legislator or local elected official” can be recalled. He cited Placerville, which is trying to recall four of its five council members because they want to “change the look of Main Street,” according to a recall organizer.

“That’s what elections are for,” Dodd said. “That’s direct democracy put in for a reason.”

Dodd, D-Napa, represents District 3, including all of Napa and Solano counties and parts of Contra Costa, Yolo and Sonoma counties.

Democrats can’t kill the filibuster. But they can gut it.

Three reforms Manchin and Sinema might consider

Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) at a Feb. 24 Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources hearing. (Leigh Vogel/AP)
The Washington Post, by Norman Ornstein, March 2, 2021

Democrats won both Georgia Senate seats in January’s runoffs, giving them control of both houses of Congress and the White House for the first time in a decade. But their ability to advance legislation — from raising the federal minimum wage to democracy reforms in the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act — can be thwarted by the Senate’s 60-vote supermajority filibuster rule.

Progressives’ anger at Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his caucus, who use the filibuster to block every initiative they can, is nearly matched by their frustration with Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin III (W. Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.), whose opposition to getting rid of the filibuster means Democrats are stuck with it, since they’d need all 50 votes in their caucus, plus Vice President Harris as a tiebreaker, to do it. Last month, the progressive No Excuses PAC, whose leaders helped elect Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.) in 2018, said Manchin and Sinema “stand in the way of progress” by abetting Republican efforts “to shrink their own party’s pandemic relief, climate, and economic investment plans.” The political action committee has talked up primary challenges to both of them to show “‘how angry Democratic primary voters are going to be’ if they continue to support the filibuster.”

Manchin hasn’t budged, though. Monday, when asked if he’d reconsider his stance on eliminating the filibuster, he shot back: “Jesus Christ, what don’t you understand about ‘never’?”

Democrats are right to see the urgency: Republican state lawmakers around the country are moving to enact voter suppression measures that will, if passed, put the slender Democratic majorities in the Senate and House of Representatives in jeopardy in 2022 and beyond. Without democracy reform, and with the Supreme Court’s recent assaults on the Voting Rights Act, sticking with the filibuster could make it nearly impossible for the Biden administration to pursue its agenda.

But Democrats should proceed with caution: In 2001, I warned that if Republicans harangued Sen. Jim Jeffords (Vt.) over his apostasy on their party’s policy priorities, they would regret it. He would switch parties and, in a 50-50 Senate, shift the Senate majority. The next month, it happened. The same concern now applies to Democrats with Manchin. Push too far, and the result could be Majority Leader McConnell, foreclosing Democrats’ avenue to pursue infrastructure, tax reform and health reform legislation.

So, what can Democrats do?

For a West Virginia Democrat, heavy criticism from key members of his own party, up to and including President Biden, might wind up working to Manchin’s advantage. That was true of an earlier apostate, Sen. Richard C. Shelby (Ala.), who’s been reelected several times after switching from Democrat to Republican in 1994, after butting heads with President Bill Clinton.

Instead of naming and shaming them, Democrats might consider looking at what Manchin and Sinema like about the filibuster. Sinema recently said, “Retaining the legislative filibuster is not meant to impede the things we want to get done. Rather, it’s meant to protect what the Senate was designed to be. I believe the Senate has a responsibility to put politics aside and fully consider, debate, and reach compromise on legislative issues that will affect all Americans.” Last year, Manchin said, “The minority should have input — that’s the whole purpose for the Senate. If you basically do away with the filibuster altogether for legislation, you won’t have the Senate. You’re a glorified House. And I will not do that.”

If you take their views at face value, the goal is to preserve some rights for the Senate minority, with the aim of fostering compromise. The key, then, is to find ways not to eliminate the filibuster on legislation but to reform it to fit that vision. Here are some options:

Make the minority do the work. Currently, it takes 60 senators to reach cloture — to end debate and move to a vote on final passage of a bill. The burden is on the majority, a consequence of filibuster reform in 1975, which moved the standard from two-thirds of senators present and voting to three-fifths of the entire Senate. Before that change, if the Senate went around-the-clock, filibustering senators would have to be present in force. If, for example, only 75 senators showed up for a cloture vote, 50 of them could invoke cloture and move to a final vote. After the reform, only a few senators in the minority needed to be present to a request for unanimous consent and to keep the majority from closing debate by forcing a quorum call. The around-the-clock approach riveted the public, putting a genuine spotlight on the issues. Without it, the minority’s delaying tactics go largely unnoticed, with little or no penalty for obstruction, and no requirement actually to debate the issue.

One way to restore the filibuster’s original intent would be requiring at least two-fifths of the full Senate, or 40 senators, to keep debating instead requiring 60 to end debate. The burden would fall to the minority, who’d have to be prepared for several votes, potentially over several days and nights, including weekends and all-night sessions, and if only once they couldn’t muster 40 — the equivalent of cloture — debate would end, making way for a vote on final passage of the bill in question.

Go back to the “present and voting” standard. A shift to three-fifths of the Senate “present and voting” would similarly require the minority to keep most of its members around the Senate when in session. If, for example, the issue in question were voting rights, a Senate deliberating on the floor, 24 hours a day for several days, would put a sharp spotlight on the issue, forcing Republicans to publicly justify opposition to legislation aimed at protecting the voting rights of minorities. Weekend Senate sessions would cause Republicans up for reelection in 2022 to remain in Washington instead of freeing them to go home to campaign. In a three-fifths present and voting scenario, if only 80 senators showed up, only 48 votes would be needed to get to cloture. Add to that a requirement that at all times, a member of the minority party would have to be on the floor, actually debating, and the burden would be even greater, while delivering what Manchin and Sinema say they want — more debate.

Narrow the supermajority requirement. Another option would be to follow in the direction of the 1975 reform, which reduced two-thirds (67 out of a full 100) to three-fifths (60 out of 100), and further reduce the threshold to 55 senators — still a supermajority requirement, but a slimmer one. Democrats might have some ability to get five Republicans to support their desired outcomes on issues such as voting rights, universal background checks for gun purchases or a path to citizenship for Dreamers. A reduction to 55, if coupled with a present-and-voting standard would establish even more balance between majority and minority.

In a 50-50 Senate, and with the GOP strategy clearly being united opposition to almost all Democratic priorities, Biden and Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.) need the support of Manchin and Sinema on a daily basis. They won’t be persuaded by pressure campaigns from progressive groups or from members of Congress. But they might consider reforms that weaken the power of filibusters and give Democrats more leverage to enact their policies, without pursuing the dead end of abolishing the rule altogether.


Headshot of Norman OrnsteinNorman Ornstein, an emeritus scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, is a co-author of “One Nation After Trump: A Guide for the Perplexed, the Disillusioned, the Desperate and the Not-Yet Deported.”

Stacey Abrams: Our democracy faced a near-death experience. Here’s how to revive it.

Pro-Trump rioters storm the U.S. Capitol to contest the certification of the presidential election on Jan. 6. (Ahmed Gaber/Reuters) (Ahmed Gaber/Reuters)
The Washington Post, Opinion by Stacey Abrams, Feb. 7, 2021

Stacey Abrams, a Democrat, is a former minority leader of the Georgia House of Representatives and founder of the group Fair Fight.

The violent Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, coupled with ongoing threats to election officials, election workers and lawmakers at all levels, represent unprecedented attacks on the foundations of our democracy. Certainly, President Donald Trump and others in his party who inspired the attacks must be held accountable through all available means. But accountability alone will not be nearly enough.

Only meaningful reforms can undo the damage done — and establish a government that is truly representative of the people. The next real test of our democracy comes now.

Make no mistake: Democracy may have survived this year, but President Biden and Vice President Harris were elected despite, not thanks to, weakened electoral systems. Together with the Democratic Congress, they now have the opportunity to implement reforms that reaffirm our nation’s promises that our country represents and works for everyone. We as Democrats must act before it is too late.

Our democratic system faces extraordinary threats today because of sustained attacks from Republican leaders who throw up roadblocks to voting and, among the worst actors, stoke the flames of white supremacy and hyper-nationalism to cling to power. There can be no clearer example than the covid-19 pandemic. The deaths of more than 450,000 people in the richest country in the world are symptomatic of a democracy in crisis and a political system that rewards cronyism over competence. Despite strong public support for the Centers for Disease Control’s work, the Affordable Care Act, and other economic justice and safety-net policies that could save lives, millions nevertheless continue to contract the disease without adequate access to health care.

No thinking person can deny that the communities of color disproportionately suffering and dying from this pandemic are also the people whose votes — and ability to hold failed leaders accountable — have been continuously suppressed.

The pandemic has been a collision of tragedy and corroded institutions, and the challenge is in how we respond. We can either engage in collective amnesia about what we have just lived through, and leave an unaccountable government in place, or we can rise to meet this moment by fixing the broken social compact. Defeating Trump was not enough. Meaningful progress on health care, racial justice and the economy requires aggressive action on voting rights, partisan gerrymandering and campaign finance.

One of the first steps must be an overhaul of the Senate filibuster, which has long been wielded as a cudgel against the needs of millions who struggle. Today, the parliamentary trick creates a more sinister threat to our nation: the ability of a minority of senators, who represent 41.5 million fewer people than the Senate majority, to block progress favored by most Americans.

Democrats in Congress must fully embrace their mandate to fast-track democracy reforms that give voters a fair fight, rather than allowing undemocratic systems to be used as tools and excuses to perpetuate that same system. This is a moment of both historic imperative and, with unified Democratic control of the White House and Congress, historic opportunity.

The agenda to restore democracy also includes passing the For the People Act to protect and expand voting rights, fight gerrymandering and reduce the influence of money in politics; the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to restore the full protections of the 1965 Voting Rights Act; and the Protecting Our Democracy Act to constrain the corruption of future presidents who deem themselves above the law. These landmark bills have broad-based support, and would have passed long ago were it not for obstructionist leaders who fear losing their own influence if the American people have more power of their own.

Further, fixing our democracy requires we finally allow our fellow Americans in D.C. and Puerto Rico, the vast majority of whom are people of color, to have full access to our democracy. That means D.C. statehood and binding self-determination for Puerto Rico. In the District, as white extremist mobs destroyed the Capitol, murdered a police officer, and threatened the lives of elected officials and residents, Washingtonians were left defenseless because D.C. is not a state and its chief executive had no authority to deploy the National Guard.

Time is short. The forces standing against a democracy agenda seek to preserve and expand paths to power by shrinking the voting pool rather than winning voters over. In reaction to the historic turnout of 2020 and Democratic victories in places such as Georgia, already this year more than 100 bills have been put forward in state legislatures seeking to restrict voting access. Those efforts will not end without a fight.

We don’t know how many chances we will get to reverse our democracy’s near-death experience. We must not waste this one. We must go big — the future of democracy demands it.

TAKE ACTION TODAY! Our Democratic Party is electing delegates, deadline MONDAY, JANUARY 11

BenIndy Editor: The Benicia Independent most especially endorses Susannah Delano and Kari Birdseye!  Vote for all 10 – more below…

From Progressive Democrats of Benicia

CHOOSING OUR CA ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 14 DEMOCRATIC PARTY DELEGATES

YOU can help vote for a PROGRESSIVE SLATE to represent us! Details and HOW to vote…

WHAT DELEGATES DO: The Delegates we elect will vote for the officers of the California Democratic Party, as well as endorsements for legislative and statewide offices and ballot propositions.  In even numbered years the Delegates establish the party platform and weigh in each year on state resolutions.

The PDB Steering Committee recognizes that there has been a division within the Party between Progressives and Labor/corporate interests. In Solano County, the labor slate includes an offshoot of the Working Families PAC which spent nearly $300,000 in an unsuccessful attempt to defeat Steve Young in the race for Benicia Mayor.

This year, due to the Pandemic, the Democratic party is doing an all-mail ballot to elect delegates representing Assembly District 14 (Grayson).  We are urging you to go to the link [https://ademelections.com/?isCandidate=False] to request a ballot be mailed to you, and then consider supporting the Progressive slate, as listed below.

Your Steering Committee supports this group of Democratic Progressive Candidates who want to change the Democratic Party from the corporate and divisive politics of the past. The AD 14 Progressives for Change slate is asking for your vote in January 2021 to take the party into a more transparent, accountable, and inclusive future.

How to get a Party Ballot and VOTE…

Due to the pandemic, the California Democratic Party (CADEM) has implemented a vote by mail for the 2021 Assembly District 14 Elections.

  • Deadline to request a vote-by-mail ballot is Monday January 11, 2021.
  • All voters must request a vote-by-mail ballot for this election at   https://ademelections.com/?isCandidate=False
  • All ballots must be received before Wednesday, January 27, 2021.

THE PROGRESSIVE SLATE

Please remember these names and vote for these 10 PROGRESSIVE candidates, AD 14 Progressives for Change:
…Thomas Bilbo https://www.facebook.com/ElectTomBilbo/
…Kari Birdseye https://www.facebook.com/kari.birdseye
…Ruscal Cayangyang https://www.facebook.com/ruscalcayangyang/
…Brenda Crawford https://www.facebook.com/ElectBrendaC/
…Susannah Delano https://www.facebook.com/SDforADEM
…Matthew Finkelstein facebook.com/MatthewFinkelstein4AD14/
…Susan George https://www.facebook.com/SusanGeorge4AD14/
…Leilani Quesada https://www.facebook.com/electleilaniquesada/
…Steve Sillen https://www.facebook.com/stevesillenad14/
…Phillip (Maui) Wilson https://www.facebook.com/MauiForAD14/

AD 14 Progressives 4 Changehttps://www.facebook.com/AD14Progressives4Change

Watch the video
https://fb.watch/2sZ7qkFilC/

AND… please tell and email this information to your Democratic friends in District 14 (Benicia, Vallejo, Concord, Clayton, Martinez, Pittsburg [western portion], Pleasant Hill, Rodeo, and the northern part of Walnut Creek).