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California’s Democratic Party Faithful Gather In San Diego For Annual Convention

Aired 2/10/12 on KPBS News.

Democrats from around California are assembling in San Diego this weekend for the State Party Convention. One of the hottest topics will be how redistricting and the new Open Primary will affect the Party.

All kinds of big name Democrats will be in town, from Gov. Jerry Brown to House Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi, and US Senator Al Franken, who’ll entertain the faithful with a keynote speech Saturday night.

San Diego Democratic Party Chair Jess Durfee said redistricting has changed the political map and the open primary is creating some interesting dilemmas for the party, when it comes to endorsing candidates.

“For example,” Durfee said, “there will be some races that are for Democrat versus Democrat that won’t be decided in June -- that has never been the case before. “

Durfee said he hopes that doesn’t happen much in San Diego, but there is a contentious race between two incumbent Democrats, Howard Berman and Brad Sherman, both running for congress in the same redistricted district in L.A..

In the 52nd congressional race in San Diego, redistricting has left one congressional seat vulnerable to changing party. Two Democrats - Lori Saldana and Scott Peters - are running against incumbent Republican Brian Bilbray.

Durfee said to win the Democratic party’s endorsement at the convention, one of the two Democratic candidates needs to win more than 60 percent of the votes from party delegates living in their district.

Durfee said local party chairs from all over the state were already meeting Thursday to talk about best practices.

“Our county committee is doing a training program of what we called the ‘GO Team,’” he said. “It’s designed to connect Democrats throughout the county. We have built that up to about 1,000 people involved.“

Durfee said the precinct leader program covers a third of San Diego’s precincts and has raised Democratic voter turnout by about 10 percent over the last three election cycles.

Democratic registered voters currently outnumber Republican registered voters in San Diego County by 4,000. That’s according to the latest report from the San Diego County Registrar of Voters. It is a small margin in a county of 1.4 million registered voters; 517,000 are registered Democrats, 513,000 are Republican and almost 360,000 - a growing number - decline to state their party affiliation.

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Avatar for user 'richardwinger'

richardwinger | February 10, 2012 at 8:29 a.m. ― 5 years, 1 month ago

This story would be better if it referred to California's system as a "top-two primary", not "open primary." "Open primary" has been defined in political science textbooks since 1907, and in several US Supreme Court decisions starting in 1972, as a system in which each party has its own nominees and its own primary ballot, but on primary day a voter is free to choose any party's primary ballot. By contrast, in California there are no longer any party nominees or party primary ballots (except for President).

Prop. 14, which put the top-two system in place, was not on the ballot as "open primary". 21 states have open primaries, but only California, Washington and Louisiana have top-two primaries. PBS is supposed to be superior journalism. What will happen if there is an initiative in California for a true open primary? Past misuse of the term "open primary" to refer to a top-two primary will then be massively confusing to listeners.

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