Voices for Progress Education Fund: Urgent Advocacy Need for CA Immigrant Communities
You have likely heard about the recent legislation in Congress to drastically cut even legal immigration, while deportation raids are continuing to increase. It’s critical that California step forward and fight back against President Trump’s un-American policies, but right now SB 54 – the California Values Act (authored by Senate President pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles) is facing stiff opposition in Sacramento. Governor Brown is leaning toward weakening the bill, and needs to hear from grasstops leaders urgently before an imminent amendment deadline. Can you reach out to him? Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to receive contact information and talking points from our nonpartisan partner organization, Voices For Progress Education Fund.
CDT State Assembly District 51 Endorsement
A joint CDT and Voices for Progress endorsement committee interviewed candidates in the State Assembly District 51 (East Los Angeles) race this week. Based on the interviews, candidate questionnaires and field research, the committee decided on a single endorsement that we will announce to you next week. The oil industry and business-backed Democrats are already lining up behind Mark Vargas, so our goal will be to consolidate progressive resources behind our endorsed candidate for the primary (October 3) to get them to the run-off (December 5).
California is home to more than 200,000 of the 800,000 Dreamers affected by President Trump’s decision to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The fate of our Dreamers are at stake and in the hands of Congress, including vulnerable Republican members whom represent districts with large and growing Latinx populations. Some of our fellow Rebuilding the California Dream Alliance partners — SEIU, CHIRLA (Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights) and other local partners throughout the state — organized actions in Irvine, Los Angeles, Santa Clarita and San Jose this week. We will provide updates on upcoming actions.
Senator Dianne Feinstein — the oldest member of the Senate and with a current 25-year tenure — faces growing criticism for her recent comments about President Trump and DACA, and may face a serious challenger in the 2018 primary: state Senate president pro tempore Kevin de Leon, who terms out of the state Senate next year. De Leon is one of many prominent elected state officials who may be eyeing Feinstein’s seat, as well, with an already-crowded gubernatorial field. CDTF’s own Joe Sanberg may be considering a run.
EXPLAINER: HOW CALIFORNIA’S TOP-TWO PRIMARY SYSTEM BENEFITS CORPORATE INTERESTS
All partisan statewide offices (including Governor and members of the State Legislature) and United States Congressional seats are subject to California’s top-two primary system, in which voters can vote for any candidate running for a relevant office in a primary and the top two vote-getters run off in the general election, all regardless of party. California voters adopted this system in 2010 through a ballot measure championed by then Republican State Senator Abel Maldonado and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger as a way to make races more competitive and increase the number of moderate elected officials because candidates would now have to appeal to voters outside of their party base.
Seven years into the top-two era and the impacts on progressive governance are clear: more candidates enter races in solidly Democratic districts + Democratic candidates must appeal to Republican voters in the primary and the general >> more money is spent in Democrat-on-Democrat general elections and voters have to discern which Democratic candidates prioritize business over community despite adopting generically liberal messaging. Add to this the fact that candidates of color who run for office in more diverse, lower-income districts face challenges in fundraising from their own community and are, then, vulnerable to being recruited by corporate interests (especially the oil and charter school industries) who fund their campaigns and consequently influence their votes once they are elected. So we do now have more moderate Democratic state legislators, especially in the Assembly: they are moderated by corporate influence and money, not as a reflection of the desires or values of their districts. CDT endorsed now-State Assemblymember Eloise Reyes to unseat then-incumbent Cheryl Brown (AD47-San Bernardino) in 2016 because Cheryl Brown far too often represented oil interests in Sacramento rather than her district, which was heavily negatively impacted by those oil interests. Chevron substantially funded her campaigns.
People across the political spectrum are unhappy with the top-two system for different reasons: Republicans because of the rise of Democrat-on-Democrat races in an increasingly progressive state, Democrats because of the rise of moderate Democrats compromised by their business backing, and third parties because of their virtual disappearance from general elections. A Republican looking to run against Dianne Feinstein in 2018 is trying to push a ballot measure to repeal the top-two system, a reform that has the support of people across parties. CDT advocates for the repeal of the top-two system, and we are working with a team of political experts to determine what voting system would be best for California.
California Criminal Justice Funders Group: Prosecutorial Accountability in California Webinar (Monday, September 11, 1-3 pm PT)
Join CDT’s own Nicole Boucher on CCJFG’s webinar and gain a deeper understanding of District Attorneys and how they influence incarceration rates and overall approaches to criminal justice. California’s 58 elected district attorneys (DAs) are responsible for making decisions that affect the lives of millions of people with virtually no oversight, accountability, or transparency and have been a major force in driving mass incarceration. After a panel there will be a funder only space to share about other important initiatives, let each other know about upcoming events, and hear about any collaboration opportunities. Register for the webinar here.
Donor Briefing Webinar: Legislative Session Update (Monday, September 18, 12-1 pm)
CDTF and Voices for Progress Education Fund are co-hosting a nonpartisan donor briefing webinar on key legislation passed in Sacramento this year, advocacy actions to take and forecasts for priority bills/issues this year and next. We’ll focus on climate change, immigration, criminal justice reform, housing and campaign finance reform. Invitation attached to circulate to your donor networks.
Next CDT/F Meeting (Monday, October 2: general meeting 10:30 am – 12:30 pm, closed advisory board session 12:30-2 pm)
Ludovic and Irene will convene members in the Bay Area and Nicole in Los Angeles, and we’ll all connect by video for most of the meeting. With the growth in our membership this year, our meeting will start with an open general member meeting and transition to a closed advisory board member session. The meeting agenda is attached.
Annual Statewide Meeting (Wednesday, November 15, 11 am – 4 pm)
Join us for our second annual statewide meeting in Carlsbad, featuring elected officials, labor and community organizing leaders, and other experts speaking on California’s congressional seats critical to winning back the House majority in 2018, California statewide races, and key local races like district attorneys. The meeting is open to all CDT members and other donors. Save-the-Date attached for you to circulate to your donor networks; formal invitation to follow soon.
RESEARCH AND DATA
CDT/F Director Ludovic Blain and Jim Araby, Executive Director of UFCW Western States Council (a key ally in the Eloise Reyes race and in building key state and regional progressive political organizations), authored a piece for the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy on the role philanthropy can play in responding to right-wing attacks on unions, who play an important role in the social justice movement.
by Irene Kao, CDT Strategist