Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Return of the Kinda, Sorta, But Not Really Prodigal Son

While its not news to me, the word is getting around about Steve Rivera running for Chair of the San Diego County Democratic Party against Francine Busby, who is the current Chair of the Party.  Now, whatever the merits of the various arguments for and against each candidate, the one thing that caught my attention from the article was Francine Busby's statement that Steve Rivera hasn't done anything. And that's a bit odd to me because, if anything, Steve running for Chair is pretty much the culmination of years of dedication to the Party.

Before I get too far into this, I should note that I know Steve personally for. . .a long time.  I'm not going to tell you for how long, but let's just say that I suddenly feel very old. Ugh.  Steve was one of the very first people I met when I first got into politics, and I consider him a friend. So, feel free to take my remarks with a huge grain of salt.  At the same time, I don't believe I've ever met Francine Busby - I was transitioning away from politics and more into law right around the time she started running for office. So, I don't have any opinion of Busby either way.

But as I said, I do know Steve. And in every respect, he's running for the position he should have held YEARS ago. Steve Rivera has been a former Vice Chair of the San Diego County Democratic Party, the former Publications Director of the San Diego County Democratic Party, former Vice President of the California Young Democrats (I believe), former President of the San Diego County Young Democrats, Former Regional Director for both the California Young Democrats and the California Democratic Party, and probably been involved with the Democratic Party at every level for a long time. Again, I'm not going to say how long because it makes me feel old. So, so, old.

Anyway, with all that experience, there were more than a few instances where someone in the Party would wonder when Steve would finally run for Chair. And when asked, Steve would beg off for one reason or another. So with Steve FINALLY (and seriously, Steve, F-I-N-A-L-L-Y) running for Chair, it feels for me like the prodigal son is coming home. Which, of course, is absolutely ridiculous because Steve's been around the whole time gaining more and more experience.

It is that experience that makes Steve such a great choice for Chair. Steve has served at literally every level of the Democratic Party*, and knows what each level can bring to the table, and what each level needs to succeed.  The best Party Chairs are facilitators, working behind the scenes to formulate strategy, and also making the occasional statement to the media. Steve can do that as well, if not better, than anyone. So, I'm pretty ecstatic that he's running (FINALLY).

And right now, the San Diego County Democratic Party needs someone like Steve because RIGHT NOW we have an opportunity for big things. With Toni Adkins being the Speaker of the Assembly, and Lorena Gonzalez being everything that I thought she'd be, San Diego has pull right now in Sacramento. I don't mean we're okay, I mean we have the kind of pull in Sacramento that San Diego has never had before, and probably won't have again in a long, long time.

A good Chair of the Party will take advantage of that as much as possible, and Steve definitely will be a great Chair.  So, if I were a voter on the Central Committee (which I'm not), I would look at Steve's candidacy as not a statement on Francine Busby's failures as Chair, but as an opportunity to get someone GREAT in the position during this short window of opportunity. For me, its a no-brainer. Steve Rivera for Chair of the San Diego County Democratic Party.

*For those of you who aren't familiar with the structure of the Party, it goes kind of like this:

Club Level - Clubs are just that, groups of people who are politically minded, but not necessarily highly involved. Some clubs are geographically centered (Ex. La Mesa - Foothills Democratic Club), some are centered around a constituency (San Diego County Young Democrats), and some are centered around a certain policy (Democrats for Equality).

Committee Level - The leadership of the clubs (or the more active club members) can join committees for specific regions set up by Assembly District. Members of an AD are also members of the California Democratic Party.

Central Committee - This is the main governing body of the County Party. These are technically elected officials, as each Assembly District selects 6 people to serve on the Central Committee (last thing on the ballot).

Executive Committee - These are the officers of the County Party selected by the members of the Central Committee.

California Democratic Party - this is the overarching organization of all Democratic Clubs, Committees, and Central Committees.

Democratic National Committee - This is the National Party. They elect Presidents and whatnot.