CA Democrat Party Convention: Exclusive access to Friday’s VIP reception

CA Democrat Party Convention: Exclusive access to Friday’s VIP reception

April 15, 2013

By John Hrabe

California Democrats kicked off their annual state party convention on Friday night with dinners, parties and hospitality suites to celebrate last November’s historic victories. Riding President Obama’s coattails, California Democrats added six freshmen to the state’s congressional delegation and temporarily gained the first supermajority of both houses of the state legislature in more than a century.

Dem convention doners 3

The party that prides itself on egalitarian values was largely split during Friday night festivities.

Sacramento Young and College Democrats noshed on Chandos Tacos and Southern BBQ at the Sacramento Masonic Temple, courtesy of the Consumer Attorneys of California and Assembly member Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento.

Dem convention, dinner 3Meanwhile, just a few blocks down J Street, the California Democratic Party’s top brass thanked the party’s elite donors at the VIP Chairman’s Reception and Dinner at the Citizen Hotel. CalWatchdog.com confirmed that the hotel only uses union labor.

The Party of the People dined on a gourmet meal, pictured at right, of succulent steak, sumptuous salad and intoxicating wine. Given that most of the sponsors of the shindig were public-employee unions (see list above), that meant the taxpayers of California ultimately funded the lucullan feast.

The Democrats chowed down as the taxpayers who footed the bill were at home agonizing over filling out complex state tax forms in preparation for the April 15 Tax Day of Reckoning.

Unbleeping Burton

A soft-spoken party Chairman John Burton, whom the San Francisco Chronicle once dubbed the “human Gatling gun of bleepable lingo,” told campaign contributors that their dollars would be put to good use in the upcoming special elections for vacancies in the state Legislature.

“Because we’re successful, we’re able to thank you for helping us,” Burton said in his brief and expletive-free remarks. “We hope to be able to repeat our successes in the next election cycle. Everything you’ve done here will be put to good use.”

The convention’s largest financial contributors were given top-billing at the VIP reception. The four-star Convention chairs included the California Correctional Peace Officers Association, the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association, the California Teachers Association, the Cooperative of American Physicians and the United Food and Commercial Workers Western States Council.

Burton also didn’t hide his desire to be somewhere else. “If any one of you can beat me out the door, no chance,” he said as donors sipped wine, dined on surf and turf and enjoyed the seventh floor nighttime view of the Capitol.

Party favorites

One legislator that didn’t follow Burton’s advice to rush out the door was Assemblyman Ian Calderon, D-Whittier. Considered one of the party’s most promising up-and-coming legislators, Calderon showed how to aggressively work a room, glad-handing guests at each table, before reaching the exits.

Dem convention, outside VIPState Senator Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, who spent spring break watching oral arguments at the US Supreme Court in the state’s Proposition 8 gay marriage case, was the clear star of the Friday evening cocktail reception. Adoring activists and donors repeatedly stopped him for a photo op.

Other notable Democrats spotted at the VIP reception and dinner were several state legislators, party executive director Shawnda Westly and Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones.

A snap shot of the reception at the VIP Citizen Hotel is at right.

And a YouTube of Burton’s remarks is below.

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  1. Steve Mehlman
    Steve Mehlman 19 April, 2013, 08:09

    John tried to attend the Republican convention reception in LA, but the event was held at a strip club and he couldn’t get a ticket.

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