Imagine a Republican county supervisor from Crescent City winning the North Coast seat in Congress and holding onto it for 20 years. That’s what happened when Don Clausen, a World War II veteran, won the 1962 election in a district that stretched — as it does now, with some variations — from Marin County to Oregon. But that area of rugged coastline and liberal-leaning voters now has no Republicans in Congress or the Legislature, nor does any GOP candidate have a shouting chance of success in today’s election.
If you’re looking for a way to tell blue from red this November among candidates for local, non-partisan offices, the first key to party preferences came in a list of endorsements issued this week.
The Sonoma County Democratic Party threw its support behind more than 20 candidates in races for local office and announced the party’s stance on some local ballot measures.
Among the local races, the top-of-the-ballot endorsement — for the 1st District county supervisor’s seat — went to Santa Rosa Councilwoman Susan Gorin. She is facing off against rival Santa Rosa councilmember John Sawyer in a closely watched contest for the seat held by retiring Supervisor Valerie Brown.
Sonoma County is a sea of blue, reflecting the political bent that makes it the ninth-most liberal among California’s 58 counties. Sonoma and neighboring Mendocino County, at No. 8, are nearly tied on a political consultant’s scorecard that puts nine greater Bay Area counties — and Los Angeles — on the top 10 list of most left-leaning counties.
The Sonoma County Democratic Party is set to host its annual crab feed fundraiser Feb. 24 at the Santa Rosa Veterans Memorial Building. The event, now in its 24th year, is expected to draw more than 600 attendees and regularly sells out.
The marginalization of the GOP in California is especially evident in the Bay Area, where independent voters now outnumber Republicans in five counties, a trend that could shape the outcome of some races under the new top-two primary system.
State Democratic Party regional delegates who met in Santa Rosa Saturday could not agree on which candidate to endorse to succeed outgoing Rep. Lynn Woolsey. That means no candidate in the 2nd Congressional District primary race will benefit from mailers and other advertising paid for by the state party.
California’s congressional Democrats ran a secret effort this year to manipulate the independent citizens panel that drew the state’s new political districts, foiling the intent of those who sought to remove the redistricting process from the control of party bosses. The success of the strategy has Democrats projecting they may pick up as many as seven congressional seats in 2012 under new district boundaries adopted last summer, far more than had been first expected.
A fundraising barbecue for Sonoma County Democrats Saturday had all the marks of an annual summer ritual for the party faithful — along with 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.
UPDATE 4:55 PM: Protesters upset with corporate tax breaks marked Monday’s tax filing deadline by staging a demonstration outside the Bank of America branch in downtown Santa Rosa. The noon rally was part of a nationwide series of protests organized by MoveOn, a liberal advocacy group. A similar demonstration was scheduled Monday evening at the Bank of America branch in Sonoma.