This internal party pick normally doesn't generate much attention, but this year seems to be different due to the recent political turmoil. This time around, a total of 46 people are running for a delegate seat, making it by far the largest group of candidates ever, according to organizers.
"If every candidate just brought 10 friends, then we'd still have more than 400 people showing up," said Steve Chessin, a longtime party activist who serves as the district chapter's executive board member. "You've got a lot of people who weren't involved before this election, and they want to continue with their momentum."
The level of interest in the delegate election surpassed anything Chessin has previously seen, he said. Most past elections would draw maybe two dozen people to run for a delegate seat, he said.
There are several reasons for so much more enthusiasm to get involved this time, he said, and topping the list is the lingering shock from Donald Trump's victory, especially among California Democrats. Many newcomers seem to share an interest in helping the state Democratic party shield California from the national turn toward reactionary politics, Chessin said.
In addition, many supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders' unsuccessful primary bid are redirecting their energy toward local politics. Some of Mountain View's well-known political figures in this group have formed a "Grass Roots Slate" for the delegate race, including City Councilman Lenny Siegel, former council candidates Lucas Ramirez and Ken "Kacey" Carpenter, and former Assemblywoman Sally Lieber.
Other slates have also formed for city-specific delegates and candidates being endorsed by party leaders such as state Assemblyman Mark Berman and state Sen. Jerry Hill.
This enthusiasm isn't unique to the Midpeninsula. Officials with the California Democratic Party are reporting the largest turnout they've ever seen across the state. Party officials reported that about 4,000 people statewide were seeking delegate seats, said Alyson Abramowitz, the lead organizer for the 24th District election.
"There's always a certain amount of enthusaism that comes with the election, but the level is dramatically greater this time — people have perceived the stakes are much greater," she said. "People are saying they're concerned about not having a democracy anymore. I've never heard that concern before in my life, and I've been hearing it over and over again."
Once picked, delegates are tasked with picking the state Democratic party's leadership positions, shaping the party's platform and endorsing candidates. In total, the 24th Assembly District will elected 14 delegates, evenly split between men and women.
Along with Assembly-district elections, delegates are also chosen by county-specific committees and through appointment by elected officials.
The 24th Assembly District delegate election is scheduled to begin with candidate speeches at 10:30 a.m. at the Hillview Community Center at 97 Hillview Ave. in Los Altos. Candidate statements and more information about the event can be found at www.cadem.org.
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