If you are a California Democrat, you have more power than you think. A well placed phone call or email can make YOUR voice heard by the California Democratic Party.

The California Democratic Party (CDP) will be holding it’s endorsement conference early next year to select the party’s nominees for office. Most rank-and-file Democrats don’t realize that they have a say in who gets nominated at that convention. This is a democratic process, so they do indeed have a voice. Here’s a quick overview of the process and how YOU can make a difference.

At the nominating conventions, candidates will be endorsed by three main classes of delegates:

  • Assembly District (ADEM) delegates. These delegates amount to approximately one-third of the delegates who vote at the state convention.
  • Central Committee Delegates. These delegates amount to approximately one-third of the delegates who vote at the state convention.
  • Appointed Delegates. These delegates are the rest of the voting members.

The first two classes of delegates (ADEM and Central Committee delegates) represent YOU (the rank and file Democrat) to some extent.  The last class of delegates are delegates that are appointed by candidates and party officials, and so do not represent you in a direct manner.

ADEM Delegates

Delegates at the CDP 2017 convention
Delegates taking in the convention

ADEM delegates represent the voters in an Assembly district. In January 2016, an election was held in every Assembly district and 11 representatives were elected directly by the Democrats in the respective Assembly districts. For example, I live in Assembly District 1 (a VERY large, expansive district). Elections were held in Nevada City, California and Redding, California (Most districts only have one location for the election; but since our district is HUGE we had two voting locations).  Voters aware of the elections (problem number 1 to be discussed later) came to the locations and listed to presentations from the candidates running to be an ADEM delegate (like me). Candidates gave a short presentation about themselves and why they want to represent the District at the state conventions. The voters then vote for the candidates they prefer and eventually the votes are tallied and eleven delegates are selected. I was honored to win a spot as a delegate and so I represent the Democrats in Assembly District 1.

These delegates are elected by THE PEOPLE of the district, and are therefore responsible to represent THE PEOPLE at the convention. Does this mean that they must query the Democrats in the district to determine whom to support? No. Just as our elected representatives do not ask our opinion on every vote they make (even important ones), they vote knowing that they are there to represent the views of their district. So while ADEM delegates have no mandate to query the Democrats in their district regarding candidate preferences, they are voting to represent the people of their district.

If you know your Assembly district, you can find your representatives by visiting the Assembly District Election Meetings page on the California Democratic Party website. Although the ADEM delegates information is not published on that page, these folks are party activists on a county level and are usually not difficult to find (hint: most are active on Facebook and/or Twitter).

Democratic Central Committee Delegates

Kevin De Leon address CDP Convention
Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De Leon address the California Democratic State Convention, May 2917

The CDP is organized on a county basis. Each county has a Central Committee and zero or more clubs. Some counties may have dozens of clubs, and some counties may not have any clubs at all. All clubs that operate within a county, are chartered by the County Central Committee organization (there are some exceptions). Each Central Committee is comprised of representatives that are elected to their offices by a vote of the people, usually at the primary election on the presidential election years. So most central committees are currently comprised of representatives that were elected in June 2016 to a four-year term. There are some exceptions (e.g. I was elected by proclamation to my position since there were fewer candidates than there were openings and I am honored to represent District 5 in Placer County).

Here too, these representatives represent THE PEOPLE of their county (or district therein). They are responsible for making sure that the County Central Committee reflects the views and opinions of the people.

Each central committee,  will elect delegates to the state convention . Each county makes its own rules regarding the how the elections are run. The county can also stipulate whether the delegates must vote as directed by the central committee, or whether the delegate can vote as they choose.

The rank-and-file voter does not have a direct influence on who these delegates will support at the convention. However, they can influence their central committee by letting their representatives know who they support as a candidate and ask that their central committee member vote to support that candidate. But because each central committee makes its own rules, there’s no direct way to influence the vote of these delegates.

To find the contact information for YOUR central committee, visit the Our County Committees page on the CDP Website.


You have some homework to do:

  1. Determine who your ADEM and Central Committee representatives are.
  2. If you have a preferred candidate for a party office, SPEAK UP! Tell your representatives that you want them to support your candidate. After all, your reps, represent YOU.

And finally, don’t forget to Register and Vote!  All this work is moot, if you don’t cast a ballot.

“Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

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