No fewer than 7 Californians will speak from the Democratic National Convention stage in Charlotte today,including from Assembly Speaker John Perez, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and former Controller Steve Westly. One who is not among them -- indeed, is not even in Charlotte -- is Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg.
The reason he decided to stay home, Steinberg said today, is that he's hunkering down in Sacramento to focus on this fall's state Senate campaigns. The top race he mentioned during a briefing with reporters today was eastern Ventura County's 27th District. "It's District 27, and it's our 27th seat," he said.
27 is a magic number in the Senate -- the number of votes needed to meet a two-thirds majority threshold that is needed to pass urgency bills, place constitutional amendments on the ballot and approve tax increases, (In fact, it is 67.5 percent, but 26 votes is only 65 percent of the 40-member body.) The calculus for this fall is this: There are 25 safe Democratic seats. An additional seat will become a safe Republican seat in 2014, but for the remaining two years of the four-year term it will be represented by Democrat Leland Yee, the incumbent who now represents the district that had the same number (8) under the old set of Senate maps. That means to get to 27, Democrats must win one of three competitive races around the state.
In the 27th, incumbent Democrat Fran Pavley is running in a largely new district against Republican Todd Zink, an L.A. County prosecutor. Steinberg made clear that the Senate Democratic Caucus will be all-in for Pavley.
"She's an incredible candidate, with the work that she's doing and the money she's raised," he said. "We're committed to fully funding her."
Steinberg also said that in districts such as the 27th, in which there is overlap with a competitive congressional district, there are ancilliary benefits, primarily in voter registration efforts. Federal and state parties and candidates can't coordinate on messaging or campaign tactics, but Steinberg said he has met with Rep. Karen Bass, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's California coordinator and spoken about voter registration. He said he believes that voter registration efforts undertaken by Senate Democrats in key districts two years ago were a significant factor in helping Reps. Jim Costa in the Central Valley and Loretta Sanchez in Orange County win re-election. Their districts overlapped two targeted Senate districts, those of Michael Rubio and Lou Correa.
The first hint of what those voter registration efforts have produced will be told tomorrow. That is the 60th day before the election, and county registrars will have to submit updated voter registration totals to the secretary of state for the required 60-day report.
NO VIEW, BUT THAT'S OK: Reports from Charlotte indicate that California Democrats are pleased that their hotel, the Blake Hotel, has a prime location within walking distance of the convention. They are not quite so pleased, however, with accommodations.
The Sacramento Bee reported today that Rick Gunther, president of the Demcoratic Club of the Conejo Valley, had to ask twice to be moved to a different room, as the first was flooded and the second was missing a shower head. "I lost my view, but I'm still happy," Gunther told the Bee. "I took pictures before I left the other one."