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UPDATED: FLOOR FIGHT! It's On! Challenger Winograd Takes Harman To CA Democratic Convention Floor

UPDATED: Monday, April 19, 2010 Jane Harman didn't show up to debate Marcy Winograd. A vote count was taken on the floor of the general meeting late Sunday morning - first by verbal yay and nay, conducted by California Democratic Party State Chair, John Burton. A second vote was taken by a count of hands purportedly holding delegate ID badges. The room was large and the vote count was reported to me by a number of sources as questionably conducted. Vote counters reported a slim margin win for Harman. Result: the California Democratic Party is officially endorsing incumbent candidate, Jane Harman for the 36th Congressional District. The primary is June 8th. ############################# IMG_2996 Photo by Linda Milazzo (Marcy Winograd and supporter, Jim Hightower, at California Democratic Party's Progressive Caucus event Friday night at Palm Restaurant honoring Marcy). IT'S ON! One of the most watched primary campaigns of 2010, and one of the most dramatic, is taking to the floor of the California Democratic Party Convention on Sunday, April 18th. In an impressive feat against blue-dog incumbent Congresswoman Jane Harman, primary challenger and progressive democrat, Marcy Winograd, has secured more than the needed number of votes to pull Harman's Democratic Party endorsement recommendation and open the contest to debate today, Sunday, the last day of the convention. This is Winograd's second primary challenge against Harman. Her first effort in 2006 resulted in a respectable 38 percent of the vote after a short three-month campaign. Her supporters are as energized today as they were in 2006 - perhaps even more so. Many have worked with Winograd for years on human rights, labor, education, peace and social justice. Some are meeting her for the first time on this campaign and are buoyed by her tenacity and commitment. Here are Winograd supporters at the convention last night, readying to collect the delegate signatures to take the endorsement vote to the floor: photo Photo by Linda Milazzo In a contest of Party opposites, grassroots progressive Winograd, who refuses corporate donations, has shown big money-funded Harman that being a corporate darling isn't automatic endorsement or predestined reelection. Despite how skillfully Harman has used her influence to lure support from her grassroots opponent, Winograd has come back fighting. It took only three days of statewide calling for Winograd to gather 329 delegate signatures (300 were needed) to pull Harman's March 20th South Gate pre-endorsement recommendation. It took just 4 hours at the convention last night to collect nearly 500 signatures (nearly 200 above what's required), to force a floor fight for the Party's endorsement on the convention's final day. One can be assured these delegates knew what they were doing when they gave Winograd more signatures than required by the bylaws to move Harman off the consent calendar and to the convention floor. Delegates want democracy - and giving their votes to Winograd shows they also want change. After all, their candidate choices in this race are different as night and day. Harman vs. Winograd is the quintessential battle of opposites: conservative vs. progressive, corporate donations vs. grassroots donations, power broker vs. people power, special interests vs. people's interests, war vs. infrastructure, war vs. jobs, war vs. education, war vs. housing, war vs. health, war vs. the environment, war vs. the economy... and on... This contest means the difference between reelecting an entrenched incumbent politician who supports militarism and corporatocracy or electing an inspired organizer and educator who's dedicated her life to the local community and the community at large. Lila Garrett, radio host, progressive icon and convention delegate summed it up for me this way:
"Winograd vs. Harman is not just another ho-hum congressional election. It's a battle to define the Democratic Party. If it is represented by a permanent war economy fed by a policy of permanent war, secret government, authoritarian rule - that's Harman. It it's a party whose first priorities are peace, universal education, healthcare, employment and dignity - that’s Winograd. They [Harman and Winograd] are polar opposites. Let the Democratic party be defined by this election. Then let those of us who care what our party stands for decide whether to remain Democrats or move on. It has come to that."
Yes, it has come to that. Of course none of this implies absolutely that Winograd will win the fight on the floor. But she will get the welcome opportunity to let her voice and views be heard. Progressive delegates will want to hear her. Conservative delegates may not. But in a system that favors incumbents, challengers deserve every chance to level the field. Regardless of what happens today - whether Winograd gets the Party's endorsement or not - she'll still be running against Harman in the primary June 8th. The same is true of Harman. If Winograd gets the endorsement, Harman in all likelihood plans to run against her. In the end, it's the people's opinion that matters the most. It's the constituents of California's 36th Congressional District who ultimately decide this battle between blue-dog and progressive. Still, today's "fight" will likely be pretty raucous. So stay tuned...