Democrats close out impassioned first day of summer meeting focused on the battleground

Elizabeth Warren speaks at the IWillVote fundraising gala in San Francisco, CA on August 22nd, 2019

Mike DeWald (@mike_dewald)

Democratic Party leaders gathered in San Francisco Thursday for the first day of it’s annual meeting, hosted in the Bay Area through Saturday. The meeting is used to develop some of the party’s state delegate selection plans as well as to discuss party business. While there is a palpable energy within the party heading into the 2020 election cycle, there is also an evident divide in some key policy issues facing the party. One of the most pressing debates of the day centered around the DNC’s consideration of holding single-topic debates, the most pressing for party activists being a debate centered around climate change. The resolution was introduced by Christine Pelosi, a member of the party’s Executive Committee and daughter of Speak Nancy Pelosi. The subcommittee ultimately voted down the resolution 17-8, leading to an outcry and protests from gathered party activists pushing for a greater focus on the issue.

The night closed with a fundraising gala event at the Fairmont featuring remarks from candidates Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker, as well as Chair Tom Perez, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, and Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis. IWillVote was a campaign launched by the DNC after the 2016 in an effort to reach some of the battleground states lost to Donald Trump. With the goal of early engagement and outreach, the party believes they are well-positioned in these states, regardless of who voters choose as the party’s ultimate nominee. Party Chair opened the evening offering energetic words on the issues Democrats will be focusing on in the coming election cycle while mixing in a handful of digs towards President Trump.

“I grew up working on a garbage truck, so I know garbage when I see it,” said Perez, “and this president is a dumpster fire.”

Perez said he was excited by what he called a ‘deep bench’ of candidates seeking the party’s nomination. He also expressed the need for the party to be engaged and active in the campaign process.

“These candidates got game,” said Perez, “and we gotta be on our game for the next 439 days.”

Prominent California Democrats Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti both spoke to the party’s electoral and fundraising success in the state, while also speaking the importance of new voter outreach in the upcoming election.

Cory Booker speaks at the IWillVote fundraising gala in San Francisco, CA on August 22nd, 2019

The first of the night’s presidential hopefuls, Senator Cory Booker, took the stage first and delivered an uplifting and personal speech tying together his upbringing in politics with what he sees as the gravity of the political moment. Booker spoke to the injustices he saw in America and stressed that inaction was just as bad as being part of the injustice.

“The opposite of injustice is apathy and indifference,” said Booker in stirring remarks.

The President was not the only target of Democrats in their remarks, but also Senate Majority Mitch McConnell, pointing to him as one of the roadblocks to the Democratic agenda in Congress.

Elizabeth Warren, the only ‘top tier’ candidate to appear during the evening, also took the stage to a standing ovation. She opened her remarks saying that the issues of the election were bigger than simply the President, rather than the greater symptomatic problems that led to his election. Warren focused on her message of ‘big, structural change,” laying out her bold progressive policy agenda, even referencing her own reputation for ‘having a plan for that’.

“”I see this as the fight of our lives, but I come to you with a heart of optimism,” said Warren.

Warren remained in the hall following her speech to take photos with any attendee in the crowd that wanted one – a line that snaked around the room.

The summer meeting continues with another high profile day on Friday with thirteen of the Democratic hopefuls appearing in person, including top tier candidates Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Kamala Harris. Notably absent from the event is the current race frontrunner, former Vice President Joe Biden. It’s the second high profile party event hosted in the Bay Area that the candidate has skipped after the state party’s annual convention in San Francisco earlier in the year. Candidates who were unable to attend submitted videos to be played to the DNC leaders.