While most of us have been hibernating from local politics for the holidays, the ever active Democratic Party politicos have been busily gearing up for an election this weekend.
Voters will choose Assembly District Delegates at an obscure meeting called the Assembly District Election Meetings (ADEMs). These delegates help set the policies and priorities for the California Democratic Party. So if you’ve ever been pissed off about sellout Democrats, and you live in David Chiu’s Assembly District, you might want to show up on Saturday (10am-1pm at the Women’s Building) to vote for a bunch of rad progressives who are running against a slate of more middle-of-the-road Dems.
The League’s steering committee has a range of feelings about how involved we should be in ADEMs, absent a formal endorsement process, so we’re not making any official endorsements. We are not a Democratic club and some of us aren’t Democrats. Some of us are turned off by participating in these insider politico machinations and/or question if the ADEMs really matter or if it’s just a popularity contest for politicos. Some of us are excited to see some of our allies and heroes stepping up to run for the ADEMs to reform the state Democratic Party that has been dominated by corporate sellouts for as long as we’ve been around. If this kind of geekery interests you, read on!
What the hell is the ADEMs?
The ADEM elections are held every two years to elect Assembly District Delegates to the Democratic State Central Committee (DSCC). There’s an explainer video on the California Democratic Party website.
In San Francisco, registered Democrats and Decline to State voters elect leaders to the local Democratic Party governing body, the San Francisco's Democratic County Central Committee (DCCC) that decides the Party’s endorsements of candidates and ballot measures. ADEMs are like the DCCC on the state level. But unlike the DCCC elections that are run by the independent Department of Elections and appear on your City ballot, ADEMs are weird and run by Democratic Party. You have to vote in in person at specific polling places based on the district. Instead of being a public government-run election, the process is managed by a convener and volunteers. In the past, that lack of accountability has led to some major shenanigans. In 2017, David Chiu was accused of busing in voters who jumped the line ahead of voters who’d been waiting in the rain, some for hours.
Why are the ADEMs important?
San Francisco and California are essentially “one party towns” where the Republicans are thankfully mostly sidelined while third parties struggle to break through the Dems’ monopoly. The ADEM delegates vote on the party chair and leadership for the California Democratic Party that controls a massive amount of resources for campaigns up and down the state. In 2017, the progressive candidate for chair, Kimberly Ellis, lost by just 57 votes in a hella shady election marred by disorganization and accusations of ballot stuffing. (The winner, Eric Bauman, just resigned after accusations of sexual misconduct, so...there’s that.)
The delegates also will decide the state party endorsements for 2019 and 2020 ballot measure and candidates. We can expect another mega-long ballot in 2020 with a bunch of important propositions. (Delegates don’t decide the state party endorsement for presidential candidates -- not until after the national convention when it’s a done deal.)
The ADEM election is important for movement building, securing official party endorsements for progressive candidates, and moving the dial on progressive issues. The 2017 progressive delegates added tenants rights and addressing homelessness to the party priorities. The party chair they elect impacts fundraising, and the chair wields an enormous budget and political power.
San Francisco is divided into two Assembly Districts. You can find your district here.
Assembly District 17 - the East Side of SF represented by David Chiu
In AD17, there are two competing slates -- the “Reform Democrats for Labor and Equity slate” and a competing moderate slate led by Assemblyman David Chiu. The reform slate includes some people we know to be rockstars and some people we don't know, but who seem solid. Unlike district or citywide elections, the candidates usually aren’t seasoned politicians. The reform candidates are labor organizers and racial/social justice organizers affiliated with groups like the SF Democratic Socialists of America, the Harvey Milk Club, the Latin@ Democratic Club, SF Berniecrats, SEIU Local 1021, and SEIU-USWW. We were super stoked to see John Avalos on the reform slate running for Executive Board. The League endorsed Avalos when he ran for Supervisor and in his bid to be Mayor in 2011. We’re kinda surprised to see Thea Selby on the Chiu slate, competing against progressives.
Assembly District 19 - the West Side of SF represented by Phil Ting
In AD19, Assemblyman Phil Ting sought to create a compromise and avoid competing slates and put together a “unity slate” that includes both progressive and moderate candidates.
Extra credit geekery:
Some of the candidates are running for re-election. Here’s where you can geek out on their past votes on endorsements. You see, their votes aren’t anonymous, and they’re posted next to their names. For example, you see Chiu slate member Laura Clark’s vote for Marshall Tuck, charter school advocate, when he ran for Superintendent of Public Instruction this past election.
How and where to vote:
If you made it this far, you must be a political geek! So come on down this weekend to rub elbows and trade side-eyes with all the rest of Frisco’s Democratic uber-geeks. To participate in the ADEM you must be a registered Democrat in that Assembly district. To verify your Assembly District, use this link. If you’re not currently registered as a Democrat, you can register onsite.
Assembly District Delegate Election for AD17
Saturday, January 12, 2019 at 10 AM – 1 PM
The Women's Building
3543 18th St, San Francisco, California 94110
10:00 AM: Doors open
10:30 AM: Speeches begin
11:00 AM: Registration begins
Assembly District Delegate Election for AD19
Sunday, January 13, 2019 at 10:00 AM – 2:30 PM
101 Lake Merced Blvd, Daly City, CA 94015
10:00 AM: Doors open
10:30 AM: Speeches begin
12:30 PM: Registration begins