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Demos barbecue, chew political fat


A fundraising barbecue for Sonoma County Democrats Saturday had all the marks of an annual summer ritual for the party faithful.

There were appearances by politicians who have topped local ballots for years and now hold nearly every state office representing the area.

There were rallying cries to turn that dominance into a so-called “super-majority” in the state Assembly come 2012 and take back the House of Representatives from Republicans.

“You don’t have these opportunities come along every day or every year,” state Assemblyman Jared Huffman, himself a candidate for Congress, told a crowd of more than 100 party loyalists at Howarth Park in Santa Rosa.

There also was another spectacle on display at the party’s fifth annual barbecue — candidates involved in a high-stakes game of political musical chairs, driven in part by state redistricting, in part by term limits, and in part by the shifting ambitions of political veterans and upstarts alike.

The result was back-slapping and close-quarter conversations among many people who could face off against each other in next year’s primaries. Some were incumbents looking to move up, or maybe even down, the ballot, and others were newcomers maneuvering to take their place.

It made for good theater on a warm summer day.

“Things are changing, boundaries are changing. Now everyone is shifting around,” said Sonoma Mayor Laurie Gallian, describing the seats up for grabs and races taking shape.

She compared it to a “giant swirling ball” up in the air. Another observer likened it to a “big rock tossed into the water,” the political ripples spreading outward.

In one of many speeches on the day, Huffman, a San Rafael Democrat, sounded a warning note about avoiding political fratricide in the election year.

“As we have these contests,” he said, “we need to remember we’re all Democrats.”

Author Norman Solomon of Marin County stood in the audience, listening intently. He and Huffman are among the five North Bay Democrats now running for the House seat held by retiring Rep. Lynn Woolsey. Others in that group include Petaluma City Councilwoman Tiffany Renee, who was on hand Saturday, Marin County Supervisor Susan Adams and Stacey Lawson, a San Rafael businesswoman.

Other potential matchups took shape around picnic tables filled with plates of hamburgers and watermelon.

State Sen. Noreen Evans of Santa Rosa, rumored to be eyeing a run for Sonoma County’s 1st District supervisor’s seat, talked with Santa Rosa Councilwoman Susan Gorin, who on Friday confirmed she is considering a bid for the same office.

Both would need to move into the district to run for the seat that extends from Rincon Valley and Bennett Valley in Santa Rosa through the Sonoma Valley.

Evans said she was not “actively working” on a run for the supervisor’s position, but also was not ruling it out.

“If she enters the race, it changes the dynamics for everyone,” Gorin said later, citing Evans’ wealth of financial and political support.

Official candidates for the seat include Gina Cuclis, a communications consultant from Boyes Hot Springs, and Mark Bramfitt, an energy consultant who lives just outside of Sonoma. Santa Rosa Councilman John Sawyer may declare his candidacy for the seat this week. Gorin has said she will decide in the next month.

State Assemblymen Wes Chesbro of Arcata and Michael Allen of Santa Rosa also were lining up their bids for re-election.

Because redistricting maps completed this summer put both in the same newly created 1st District, stretching from Santa Rosa north to the Oregon border, Allen has said he will have to move to stay in office.

He is said to be contemplating a move east, into the newly created 4th District, which takes in the Sonoma Valley and Napa, Lake, Solano and Yolo counties. The other possibility is a move west, to compete in the 10th District, spanning southern and western Sonoma County and including all of Marin County.

Neither Allen or Chesbro would divulge their plans.

Allen acknowledged, though, that scrambling is going on locally and statewide among politicians and the interests they represent because of redistricting.

He did not seem to think that was necessarily a bad thing.

“It has thrown things into a state where people are trying to figure out what they are doing, where they are going,” he said. “It impacts candidates and the whole way people are represented.”

13 Responses to “Demos barbecue, chew political fat”

  1. Western Cluebird says:

    The headline should read “Demos cooked, scrounging for more pork”

  2. Bob from the Temp Pool says:

    Was this bash like an old time clan meeting where the Southern democrats divided up the counties in the old South deciding who ran what district?

    The clan ruled and kept the minorities in line. Nowdays, in Sonoma County the democrats rule and keep the poor citizens in check with their PC rules, regulations and taxes.

    Anyone who opposes their ways of doing things is called foul names and written off as cranks or worse.

    One of their leaders warns of political fratricide in the next election, much as the clan warned of compromise.

    As a sage once said, “can’t we all just get along?”

  3. Not A Chance says:

    @Average Joe

    “I guess it is all of the ham handed, awkward, snarking, and pre-pubescent game playing.”

    I guess the 7th graders will just have to continue obliterating each and every candidate you guys put up. :’(

  4. Skippy says:

    Proving once again that Liberals not only have no sense of humor, but that their forms of mob activity with screaming, smelly progressives threatening CEO’s in their homes, is just and proper, but anything a Conservative says is violent hatespeech.
    Time for Big Govt. liberals to be relegated to the ashbin of history.
    Their failed policies must be buried forever, the grave left unmarked.

    Oh gosh, I hope that wasn’t upsetting or offensive.

  5. Average Joe says:

    Something about this story reminds me of the 7th grade class president election at my junior high. I guess it is all of the ham handed, awkward, snarking, and pre-pubescent game playing.

    Just my opinion but Noreen Evans is not even competent to be the night shift supervisor at a one man doughnut store.

  6. Commonsense says:

    Mr. Newman,
    I could be wrong, but I think Skippy was making a joke regarding juvenal’s question as to why this was even news….at least that’s how I took it. And if one wanted to be even sillier, since the vast majority of the this area, probably including PD reporters, is democratic, not sure there are enemy troops even about…. :-)

  7. Eric Newman says:

    So this is where the Tea Party fanatics want to take us to: a constitutionally protected free speech activity (a BBQ for Democratic party supporters!) is now framed as “enemy troop movements”. WSC will bear a share of responsibility for airing such outrageous, hate-filled speech when the guns finally come out, as they inevitably will when this kind of discourse becomes normalized by a failure to enforce norms of civic decency. I will remind WSC of this warning when the time comes, God forbid.

  8. Skippy says:

    Just keeping an eye on enemy troop movements.

  9. Juvenal says:

    Why is a political party doing one of the things political parties do–having a fund-raiser–grist for the SonomaWatch mill?

  10. homegirl says:

    A BBQ? No! A Roundup of the “Usual Suspects”.
    Time for these tired old hacks to get out of the game.

  11. Pass the Ribs says:

    Are the Republicans meeting in a phone booth, if they can find one? Isn’t a one party state exciting?

  12. Ruben says:

    Why didn’t the supervisors or any elected department head : sheriff frettas or district attorney Ravitch not take a pay cut like all their workers had too. Ridiculous. All these elected officials should be recalled.

  13. County Worker says:

    Why would Noreen Evans give up her Senate seat to run for Supervisor?

    1. She wouldn’t have to pay for her own gas traveling all over a huge district, the Supervisors give themselves $700/month mileage allowance.

    2. Not much of a retirement plan as a State legislator, but as a County Supervisor you can retire after 8 years, 2 terms, with 25% of your highest salary year ($180,000 that includes vacation, mileage allowance, the 6% 401k, etc.), plus $500 retiree medical for LIFE!!

    3. Why be a Senator for a paltry salary of $95,000/year plus meager benefits, maintaining two households, when Supervisors now give themselves over $250,000/year salary/benefits and you go to sleep at night in the same bed 10 minutes away?


    Supervisor salary/benefits have increased from $95,000in 2000 to over $250,000 today.