Sacramento Report

August / September 2016
Volume 61 Number3

For the first time, the california primary was almost relevant

For the first time in a half-century, California’s presidential primary was almost relevant. Hillary Clinton clinched the nomination just one day before Tuesday’s election. Maybe next time. In any event, she beat her rival Bernie Sanders by 10 percentage points, a much wider margin of victory than the polls predicted.

Now it is time for the Democrats to come together and back Hillary so we can defeat Donald Trump. The stakes couldn’t be higher. If Trump is elected and the Republicans remain in control of both houses of Congress, there is no question that he will attack labor. His appeals to racism are so vile and virulent that he will set civil rights back 80 years if elected.

At the state legislative level, we continue to see the negative impacts of the so-called “Open Primary,” which replaced the traditional primary election for each political party with a system where the top two candidates in June face each other in the fall. It is working as its conservative proponents intended, with more conservative “business” Democrats beating more labor-friendly democrats in “Dem on Dem” runoff elections in November.

The more conservative Democrats are frequently winning those contests by appealing to Republican voters. The result is that more business-friendly Democrats are getting elected in some of the most liberal parts of the state. This was exemplified in June when business Democrats killed a labor-supported bill to give farmworkers overtime pay after eight hours in a day like all other workers. Two of the “no” votes came from members of the Assembly representing probably the two most liberal districts in the state, one in Santa Monica and the other in Marin County.

Business interests are pouring millions of dollars into independent expenditure campaigns, where there are no limits on the size of donations.