San Francisco District Attorney

CDT-endorsed Chesa Boudin won a historic race for San Francisco District Attorney, making him the first public defender elected as a DA in our state. His victory was due in large part to the independent expenditure led by our community partners at SF Rising Action Fund. Chesa Boudin’s more progressive stance and commitment to end mass incarceration and hold police accountable resonated as SF Rising Action implemented a field campaign to reach new majority voters. Per their press release:


“Communities of color have much to celebrate tonight. In an extremely low turnout election, we knew every low-income voter of color we talked to would have a significant impact on the final results. From the Bayview, to Chinatown, to the Mission, our team took part in an effort to turn out low frequency voters who are directly impacted by who is elected as the next DA,” says Emily Lee, Director of San Francisco Rising Action Fund. “Traditional campaigns rely heavily on ads and attack pieces, but we know that one on one conversations are critical to getting voters to the polls. For months leading up to election day, our team talked to thousands of voters in Spanish, English, and Chinese about their vision for a San Francisco that is safe and thriving for everyone.”


Despite Mayor London Breed’s appointment of Suzy Loftus as Interim District Attorney and the Police Officer’s Association spending over $700,000 on attack ads in the race, it is clear that San Francisco voters know that public safety includes mental health, affordable housing, job security, and access to healthcare, not just policies and systems that lock people up. San Francisco Rising Action Fund will continue to elect and hold public officials accountable to fight for the safety of all people.”


Virginia Follows California

Virginia’s General Assembly flipped from Republican to Democrat and will have the most women representatives ever and the most African Americans since Reconstruction. Like California, Virginia’s demographic make-up has been shifting over decades, especially as more immigrant families settle into the suburbs there. Tram Nguyen of New Virginia Majority details how they won by engaging new majority voters year-round on a progressive agenda and turning them out to vote, year after year. “States don’t become battlegrounds overnight. Democrats and national progressive organizations have the resources to take their case to the people and win, but they have to start early and organize relentlessly. When they lose, they have to stay in place and keep fighting for every political inch they can get. No place is unwinnable forever.”


Sound familiar? In 2018, we saw how CDT’s 10+ years of investing in new majority power-building strategies flipped historically-Republican districts that often have more in common with the suburbs of Virginia than other parts of California. In 2020, we have opportunities to consolidate those gains by resourcing our partner regional tables and community groups to engage key new majority voters. 



California Voters

Over 20 million Californians (more than 80% of those eligible) are now registered to vote. According to Secretary of State Alex Padilla, that’s the highest percentage in nearly 70 years and a 10-point increase since the 2016 elections. In a closer look at the voter registration data, there’s been a significant registration uptick in the Inland Empire and new majority communities. Additionally, per the LA Times “[i]n almost every House district in which a Republican incumbent lost in 2018, Democrats have either expanded their lead in registered voters or narrowed the registration gap — thus boosting their chances of holding the seat in 2020 and perhaps giving them some room to embrace their party’s effort in the impeachment inquiry against President Trump.”


The Los Angeles Unified School District considers allowing non-citizen parents to vote in school board elections (as they already do in San Francisco).


State Legislature

Interest groups spent nearly $300 million on lobbying over the 2019 legislative session (January through September). Per the LA Times, that’s “an average of about $2 million every day the Legislature was in session this year,” and a total that could likely break last year’s spending record of $360 million once final 2019 reports are filed. 


In 25 years, we’ve gone from passing anti-immigrant Proposition 187 to now having 29 members in the California Latino Legislative Caucus. On the 25th anniversary of Proposition 187, most of the Caucus members appeared in a video thanking former Governor Pete Wilson for his support of 187, inspiring them to become activists and legislators. 



The California Immigrant Policy Center released a report exploring how expanding the California Earned Income Tax Credit to immigrant families — regardless of immigration status — would “[create] positive outcomes for all.” The California Budget and Policy Center also released a brief on an expansion.