It was early, but not too early, for those interested in seeking the party's 2010 nomination for governor to do a little preening at the weekend convention of the state Democratic Party.
Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown all but announced his candidacy in his speech to delegates. Lt. Gov. John Garamendi organized a rally of young people to make a show by waving "Garamendi" signs when he took the stage. Former Controller Steve Westly showed up to talk with the Internet and Technology Caucus. San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom was happy to be the honored luncheon guest of the California Young Democrats.
And Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell presented more subtle, but still discernable clues of his interest. He arranged to be introduced by Sen. Dean Florez of Bakersfield, highlighting the support of a Latino from the Central Valley. In his brief speech to delegates, O'Connell also mentioned a few issues other than education -- Iraq, healthcare and global warming. And he threw in some old-fashioned political red meat: "We need a president with vision. We need a president with a pulse."
But mostly, O'Connell positioned himself as the state's champion of education who will fight tooth-and-nail Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposed cuts in school funding.
"Was it our students, the children of this state, who got us into this financial mess?" O'Connell asked. "How do we attempt to undermine their future by suggesting we underfund education? .. It's time that we make it known to this governor that we will not idly stand by and we will not compromise. We are going to fight for our students."
O'Connell also left no question that, should he run for governor, it will be foremost as the candidate with an enduring commitment to California schools. "Education must be our No. 1 priority," he said. "I will not have it any other way. Not now, not tomorrow, not ever."