Daraka background.jpg

The leader we need

for the party we want!

My name is Daraka Larimore-Hall, and I’m running to be the next chair of the California Democratic Party

I was raised a politically active household, where marching, voting and arguing the world were family values. I want to continue to put my experience, passion for progressive social change and love of organizing to work for California Democrats. I hope you will join me. 

I live in my home town of Santa Barbara with my partner Hillary, just a few blocks from the apartment building I grew up in. For a decade, I was chair of our County Democratic Party, and helped build it from an irrelevant body that fought over small items into a powerful electoral force, allied with our friends in labor, environmentalist and community organizing. We were among the first counties to write our own platform on local policy, and use this as a guide for endorsing candidates and holding elected officials accountable. 

Professionally, I have worked as a Sociology instructor and professor at UCSB and Santa Barbara City College, beginning as a student employee while working on my Doctorate. For many years, I was an activist, organizer and staff member for the United Auto Workers union at the University of California, where I helped start the nation’s first and largest union for postdoctoral researchers. For the past few years, I have also worked as an advisor and consultant for progressive ballot measure campaigns, as well as Social Democratic parties and unions around the world, including Norway, Sweden, Germany, France and Australia. 

I am the only candidate for Chair who came up from the Party’s grassroots- from club activist to County Committee member and chair, to State Party Secretary and now Vice Chair. I believe that the Party can and should produce its own leaders.

A Party for the People

The Democratic Party is a coalition. It brings together grassroots activists, elected officials, allies from the unions and social movements, political professionals and neighborhood advocates. We are as diverse in our thinking as we are in our backgrounds and identities. The California Democratic Party must be a space for all of these elements to come together and make decisions as a group. Nobody should be allowed to dominate or go around collective decisions. That’s why I took the lead in opposing AB 84, which would have given too much power to Legislative leadership, while also supporting constructive engagement with our elected officials to move our common agenda. 

Our Party should be a kind of “one stop shopping” experience for activists. By joining a club and getting involved, people should be able to work to elect candidates, hold them accountable to our values, advocate for issues, empower their communities and take direct action against the Trump agenda. This is a vision of party-building that goes beyond the crucial step of winning elections. It means increased attention to the capacities, tools and resources of our County committees and clubs, it means building on recent Party reforms allowing us to lobby and advocate for more legislation, and it means building a bridge between State and local level policy-making. We need to make the switch to “big organizing” at all levels. 

A New Benchmark of Success

I love winning elections, and now more than ever, as the GOP slides further toward fascism, all Republicans are worth beating at the ballot-box. But we need to start holding ourselves to a political as well as electoral standard. California leads the country in resistance to Trump’s racist immigration policies, but it also leads the country in income inequality and poverty rates. Working all angles and using all the tools in our activist toolkit, we must view our job as moving an agenda, not just numbers on a scoreboard. 

Our platform, resolutions and the energy of our base are all clear: We can and must pass the nation’s first Medicare for All program. We can and must end the Prison Industrial Complex and the pipeline of criminalization. We must raise wages and reign in corporate power. We must protect renters from unfair rent increases AND increase the supply of affordable housing, both public and private. We have the political power to accomplish these things, so long as we can find ways to work together in solidarity without papering over our honest differences.

Solidarity Forever

Our Party has failed to be the safe space our activists and staff deserve. The reason I took immediate and decisive action alongside victims of harassment and abuse was the principle of solidarity I learned growing up and working in the union movement. An injury to one, I believe, is an injury to all. I’m calling on our Party to make swift and serious changes to its policies and practices to ensure that such abuse never happens again, and if it does, that there are clear and safe procedures for addressing it. We must provide counseling and support to all those who need it. We need to expand the conversation about personal boundaries and rights to include situations and behavior that doesn’t fit everyday social assumptions. Our leaders in the Democratic LGBTQ community should guide a culturally competent conversation that does not indulge in homophobia, transphobia and lazy stereotypes. 

Solidarity must also guide our organizing and advocacy work. Whether the attacks come against union workers and their pensions, or women’s access to health care, or a trans student’s rights to safety on campus, Democrats must be front and center in the fight-back. Conservatives and their allies will always seek to divide us- along racial lines, homeowner vs renter, North vs South, rural vs urban, worker vs. environmentalist. The fact is that everyone does better when everyone does better, and only when we stand undivided do we all win.

In solidarity,



We Want A Party For The People

We Support Daraka

Elected Officials

Hon. Dave Jones, California Insurance Commissioner (former)

Hon. Salud Carbajal, Congressmember, 24th District

Hon. Monique Limon, Assemblymember, 37th District

Hon. Gregg Hart, Santa Barbara County Supervisor

Hon. Das Williams, Santa Barbara County Supervisor

Hon. Joan Hartmann, Santa Barbara County Supervisor

Hon. Jesse Arreguin, Mayor of Berkeley

Hon. Cathy Murillo, Mayor of Santa Barbara

Hon. Matt LaVere, Mayor of Ventura

Hon. Paula Perotte, Mayor of Goleta

Hon. Elizabeth Patterson, Mayor of Benicia

Hon. Paul Akinjo, Vice-Mayor, City of Lathrop

Hon. Oscar Gutierrez, Councilmember, City of Santa Barbara

Hon. Lindsey Horvath, Councilmember, City of West Hollywood

Hon. Stuart Kasdin, Councilmember, City of Goleta

Hon. James Kyriaco, Councilmember, City of Goleta

Hon. Jonathan Abboud, Trustee, Santa Barbara Community College

Hon. Rose Muñoz, Board Member, Santa Barbara Unified School Board

Hon. Luz Reyes-Martín, Board Member, Goleta Unified School Board

Hon. Lauren Hanson, Board President, Goleta Water District

Party Leaders

Michael Kapp, DNC Member, DNC Youth Council Chair

Ruth Carter, Chair, CDP Senior Caucus

Hene Kelly, Chair, CDP Disability Caucus & Regional 6 Director

Evan Minton, Co-Chair, CDP LGBT Caucus

David Atkins, Regional Director, Region 10

Deborah Cunningham-Skurnik, Regional Director, Region 18

Rocky Fernandez, Regional Director, Region 5

Carol Taylor, Treasurer, CDP Rural Caucus

AJ Valenzuela, Co-Chair, CDP Organizational Development Committee

Allan Acevedo, Chair, CDY LGBTQ Caucus

Gary Amstutz, President, Democratic Club of Kern River Valley

Resa Barillas, Regional Director, CYD Inland Empire

Janet Blevins, VP, Lompoc Valley Democratic Club

John Casselberry, Jr., President, Simi Valley Democratic Club

Charles Clouse, President, Democratic Service Club of Santa Barbara

Jodie Cooper, Executive Vice President, Simi Valley Democratic Club

Mary Ann Cox, Democratic Party of San Joaquin County

Mark Edwards, Political Action Chair, Miracle Mile Democratic Club

Ilissa Gold, President, Miracle Mile Democratic Club

Marilyn Grunwald, Bylaws Co-Chair, Democratic Party of San Fernando Valley (DPSFV)

Greg Harnage, 1st Vice Chair, Placer County Democratic Party

Bryan Hash, Treasurer, Feel the Bern Democrats of Riverside County

Martin Higuera, President, Centennial High School Young Dems

Per Hoel, Co-Chair, Santa Barbara Democratic Socialists of America (DSA)

Tamar Kaye, Chair, Ukiah Democratic Club

Carrie McFadden, Chair, Young Democrats of America LGBTQA Caucus

Alesandro Neri, Administrative VP, United Democrats of Ventura County

Kevin Perèz-Allen, Member, CDP Environmental & Chicano Latino Caucuses

Nadine Peyrucain, Contra Costa County Democratic Central Committee

Judy Pipkin, Administrator, Santa Clara County Democratic Party

Jessica Self, Chair, Stanislaus County Democratic Party

Daniel Stephenson, Executive Vice Chair, El Dorado County Democratic Party

Gail Teton-Landis, Chair, Santa Barbara County Democratic Party

Gus Sustaita, Controller, Miracle Mile Democratic Club

Allyson Vincent, Co-Treasurer, Democrats of North Orange County

Lorraine Waldau, President, Lompoc Valley Democratic Club

Democratic Organizations

Miracle Mile Democratic Club

Santa Barbara County Democratic Party

Simi Valley Democratic Club

University of California, Santa Baraba College Democrats

United Auto Workers - Region 5

United Auto Workers Local 5810

Democratic State Central Committee Delegates

Greg Ardoin

Joe Ayala

Hillary Blackerby, E-Board

Steve Bott

Nathan Bousfield

Mary Carter

Elizabeth Caskie

Troy Corley

Brannin Dorsey

Sean Dugar, E-Board

Michelle Elmer, E-Board

Yvette Flores

James Forsythe

Ajaib Gill

Allan Goetz

Michael Hamilton

Blake Hooper

Jon Huycke

Rosemary Jenkins

Pat Johnstone

Ben Kemper

Sara Kent

Carol Kim

Kelly King

Nicholas Langarica

Dotty LeMieux, E-Board

Natalie Higley

Paul Linfesty

Jesse P. Luna

Gretchen Newsom

Mai Nguyen Do

Ricardo Ochoa, E-Board

Kristin Parisi

Joe Pierre

Sherry Reson

David Rowell

Moe Sarama

Tania Singh, E-Board

Ryan Skolnick, E-Board

Amanda Smash Hyde

Lily Starling

Samuel Sukaton

Leslie Swift

Andrae Wara-Macapinlac

Joe Louis Wildman, E-Board

Community Leaders

Diane Alejandro

Richard Appelbaum, Professor Emeritus

Wendy Aragon, Community Activist

Steven Attewell, Adjunct Professor

Patrick Band, Executive Director, Napa County Bicycle Coalition

Jessica Basta

Jennifer Bloomquist, Co-founder, Pro-Choice Kern County

Christina Bradley

Cory Cordero-Rabe, Teacher

Olivier Cottray

Pat Downs, California 4 Bernie 2020 Founder

Laurence Dworet, Activist

Marta Evry, Community Organizer

Ron Faas, Democratic Club of Santa Maria Valley Eboard

Iru Fernando, Addiction Psychiatrist

Mickey Flacks

Richard Flacks, Professor

Ameenah Fuller, Activist

Cheryl Hermann, Santa Ynez Valley Democratic Org (SYV-DO)

Alan Lubow

Nicholas Langarica

Jill MacKay

Esther Malkin Founder, Monterey Peninsula Renters United

Annaly V. Medrano, Organizer

Dotty Nygard, Executive Board, San Joaquin Central Labor Council

Kevin Perez-Allen, Organizer

Victor Quiroz, International Representative, UAW Region 5

Alex Rodriguez, Chairman, California Latino Business Institute

Natalie Rojas

Max Rorty, Co-Founder, Santa Barbara Transgender Advocacy Network

Aidan Smith

Dominique Smith

Angie Swanson-Kyriaco, Planned Parenthood

Joe Thelin, Activist

Kate Timbers-Coggin, Doctor

Rev. Darrell Tullis, Pastor, The House of the Lord Christian Church

Rick Watts, Stonewall Democrats

*Titles for recognition purposes only.

I Endorse DaRAKA

Name *

VISION & Platform



Reform, Advocacy and Organizing

Daraka Larimore-Hall for California Democratic Party Chair

At its best, the Democratic Party is a vehicle for ordinary people to build political power and make change in their communities. As a coalition of activists, elected officials and movements, our goal should be to provide a "one-stop shop" for Californians who want to fight the Trump Agenda, enact progressive legislation, shape public debate, and elect more and better Democrats at every level. We should think about our structure, culture and operations from the point of view of a Democratic voter who’s looking to do more than just vote. Our Party should serve the people who walk into a Party office or contact a local Party leader and say they want to get involved. They are the people who could become loyal volunteers for years to come, or even run for office themselves. Our goal should be to welcome them from day one, and provide them with the infrastructure, resources, and support they need to accomplish their goals.

This isn’t just about making our party more effective—it’s also about living our values. In a world of multi-million dollar elections, where economic inequality, racism. and patriarchy determine who does and does not have power and access, a Democratic Party that is well organized, values-driven, and focused on empowering people is a powerful tool for social change.

As your Chair, I want to work together with you to build that kind of Party. My vision comes in three overlapping projects: reforming the Party, uniting around issues, and building an organizing model that wins elections at every level and holds our representatives accountable.


Part one: reform

The CDP has come a long way since the days when all Party Delegates were appointed by elected officials, and all power was concentrated at the top. Generations of activists pushed successfully for more openness and transparency in our delegate selection and endorsement processes. They have achieved tremendous changes, from the creation of ADEMs, to the more recent reforms of our endorsement process, to the creation of caucuses to ensure that the full diversity of our party had a voice.

We need to do more. We have made great strides at making the structure of our party more inclusive, but we must put the same effort into making sure the culture of our party is inclusive. Above all, of course, we must fix the glaring problems in our structure and culture that have allowed abuse and intimidation to go unchecked.

1. Accountability, Misconduct and Personal Safety

We must develop a fair and safe process for resolving allegations of harassment and abuse as part of a top-to-bottom audit of our procedures by trusted outside experts. Our colleagues in the Legislature, trade unions, feminist organizations and NGOs who have worked to develop such procedures in their own environments can help guide this process. A new system must be in place by the next Executive Board meeting.

The Party should hire an Ombudsperson who is independent of the Chair and other officers to help guide members and activists through the process of filing and adjudicating complaints.  The ombud must be trained in victim advocacy and conflict resolution and be well-versed in Party structure and culture.

We have healing to do.  I have proposed that our upcoming convention plan for and incorporate a Healing Room staffed with professional individual counselors. with the inclusion of an optional, guided group counseling session. We have the ability at this unique point in history to model true community, and a responsibility to not only enact swift action toward justice on behalf of survivors, but also care for the very real injuries sustained via a broken system by providing professional support.

Throughout this process, we must always put our commitment to valuing people of all genders, gender expressions, and sexual orientations front and center.

We must develop a code of conduct with the help of legal counsel and distributed to all delegates to electronically sign and submit with their convention fees. All delegates will promise to abide by this code of conduct, which will include bans on sexual abuse, harassment, bullying, and threatening behavior, and an agreement to abide by CDP and external investigations on CDP matters. Failure to electronically sign this code of conduct will result in your convention pass being held until your signature is provided.

2. Powers of the Chair and Officers

Our Party cannot be accountable to the voters if the Chair is not equally accountable to the delegates and the Executive Officers. As Chair I pledge to create a formal, bottom-up feedback mechanism so that suggestions for improvements and reforms from delegates can be formally presented to the Executive Officers in an institutional process managed by the Regional Directors; distribute the power of appointment to standing committees (see below); observe and respect proper rules and procedure from podium and the dais, without bias or favoritism.

The specific, formal responsibilities of the other statewide officers should be expanded and codified in the bylaws.  Right now, aside from some rules on succession and some administrative tasks, all of the officer’s assignments come directly from the Chair. We should explore the addition of more Vice Chair positions, assigning them thematic or geographical responsibilities. Remuneration of officers for their time and work, so that the positions are more accessible to people of all incomes should be explored by the Finance Committee.

Major changes to the budget should be a collective decision by the Executive Officers, and check-signing responsibility shared between the Chair and Controller.

3. ADEMs

ADEMs should be fair, open and accessible to all members of the Democratic Party, and they should empower grassroots organizing from all corners of a given district, free from corrupting influences such as untraceable money. To this end, as Chair I commit to increasing transparency and fairness in conducting our ADEM caucuses.

This includes but is not limited to banning the practice of compensating ADEM voters in exchange for their votes; doing more to inform Democrats across the state about the process; ensuring that caucuses are truly centrally located in their districts or held in multiple locations if necessary; holding regional directors accountable if they actively support candidates or slates contrary to explicit guidelines, or appoint conveners with such conflicts; expanding the voting window time and streamlining the counting process; increasing resources available to conveners to find accessible sites, and examining the possibility of changes to the voting process if increased participation makes the current process unsustainable.

4. Inclusion and Access

Currently, the basis for participation in many of our bodies is voter registration status. Using this criteria excludes many people who identify as Democrats and would like to participate in our work--including young people and non-citizens. For those who cannot register to vote, wherever possible, we should replace registration status requirements with a signed statement of agreement with our values and mission.

Relatedly, the Party should expand its production of materials and information in a range of languages spoken in California. Outreach events should include simultaneous translation whenever possible.

5. Standing Committees

The Chair should not have the sole discretion to appoint members of standing committees. I favor the creation of a Nomination Committee made up of the Executive Officers and six members elected by the Executive Board to review applications and fill committee spots.  The application process itself should include a formalized and public recommendation/nomination system. While I believe the Chair should retain the prerogative of appointing Co-Chairs of the standing committees, the number of co-chairs should be set in the bylaws, so that this process cannot be used to add unlimited numbers of individuals to the Executive Board.

6. Fundraising, Transparency, and Corporate Money

A democratic and transparent organization needs to have an operating budget. As Chair, I will submit regular operating budgets for approval to the Executive Board.  While campaign realities mean that there has to be flexibility in expenditures to follow unfolding strategy, the budget will serve as a guide for our deployment of resources.

Moving forward, we must balance somewhat competing realities. First, our voters, and our values, demand that we work seriously to decrease the influence of corporate money and large donations in the political process. We cannot continue to talk out of both sides of our mouths about money in politics. At the same time, disastrous Federal decisions on campaign finance law have opened the cash floodgates into shadowy PACs and Independent Expenditures flowing to pro-corporate candidates.  We must develop a long-term fundraising strategy that takes both of these facts into account.

Unfortunately, poor leadership has delayed the launch of our promised Campaign Finance Working Group, a high-level committee of activists, party leaders, labor representatives and legislative leadership. We need thoughtful deliberation to guide this discussion and make recommendations to the Party on how to make progress on reducing corporate donations without unilaterally disarming. For example, we have already decided to ban fossil fuel, charter school, private prison and tobacco industry donations to the Party. Improving on this ad-hoc approach, we should create clear general criteria for acceptable sources of direct donations.  Additionally, we should coordinate campaigns for municipal, county and state finance reforms, including public financing and contribution limits that have already withstood legal scrutiny. As Chair, I will immediately empanel this Working Group.

To replace funds we don’t want to take, we have to increase our small-dollar fundraising. The Donate Every Month (DEM) program has been a good start, helping to fund our doorhanger program, but if we are really to get serious about changing how we fund our operations here’s the real hard truth: we all have to become donors. Most of us agree that it takes a significant amount of money to operate an effective State Party, and we want more, not fewer resources to win in those targeted races and build our infrastructure.  

7. Caucuses and Working Groups

Our caucuses are a vital part of the Democratic Party. We should work to improve their accessibility and encourage activity in between major Party functions. As Chair I would provide more staff support and access to online tools for organizing and advocacy projects in the community, around elections, and in favor of their policy priorities.

In addition, Party activists want to unite around projects and issues, like affordable housing and restoring the Master Plan for Higher Education. We should support the creation of Working Groups to stimulate discussion, education and activism around the issues that motivate our base.

8. CDP Employee rights

We must end the widespread abuse of “independent contractor” designations in Democratic politics.  Most campaign workers are actually employees and should be provided with the pay and benefits they deserve. The CDP under my chairship will refuse to abuse this loophole, and will demand that our endorsed campaign partners do the same.

As Chair, I will recognize and bargain with any group of employees who choose to be represented by a union.

9. More Transparency and Fairness in Internal Elections

Running for Party office, whether it’s to be an ADEM delegate or Party Chair, should not be a big money race. Officer candidates should be required to form FPPC-regulated Political Action Committees and publicly report their contributions. Reasonable limits on internal campaign expenditures should be adopted by the Rules Committee, and a system of reporting and transparency added to the bylaws.  Personally, I will disclose my donors, and I will not accept a dime of corporate PAC funding for my campaign.



Ultimately, we are all here for the issues. We want to save the planet, create economic justice and dismantle oppression. California can be the laboratory where we develop and implement the ideas to make this happen. Recently, progressive activists worked side-by-side with the Rules Committee to pass bylaws changes allowing the Party to be a stronger advocate for legislation. I want to take advantage of that to bring the Party together and engage new activists. The California Democratic Party has a gigantic network of engaged activists. Whether the issue is poverty, education, climate justice, women's rights, confronting the housing crisis, creating new green jobs, LGBT+ rights, or any of the other crucial issues Democrats are working to address, we will activate this network to generate lobby visits, constituent calls, and community education to pass an ambitious and unifying legislative agenda.

We need to measure our success not just by the number of Democrats we elect, but also by the changes we bring to people's lives. As a political organization, we need to do more politics. Of course, our agenda must be decided democratically, building on decisions in our Platform, Resolutions, and Legislation Committee endorsements. In terms of my own political priorities, however, here are a few issues I’d like us to focus on.

1. We’ve Got Issues

The Green New Deal is a necessity not merely for ensuring that Californians can survive and overcome climate change, but also for achieving a “just transition” from a carbon-based economy. A just transition is one that provides workers, low-income communities, communities of color, indigenous communities, and both rural and urban communities with comprehensive economic and social security. Just as the poor should not be asked to bear the burden of climate change, so should the rich not be the only ones to enjoy the benefits of a post-carbon economy. I support moratoriums and bans on fracking and other high-intensity extraction methods, coupled with public investment in employment transition for affected workers.

Fighting income and wealth inequality is a moral imperative that I am committed to tackling head on.  California’s “Gini coefficient”--the international measure for inequality--puts us 44th out of 50 states. Although the poverty rate is falling, when we account for housing costs, 19% of Californians live in poverty, the highest rate in the country. We can and must do better. First and foremost, we must support the expansion and protection of collective bargaining, the most effective tool we have for democratizing our economy. In addition, I fully support stronger equal pay laws, tuition free college for all Californians, expanding paid family and medical leave, expanding childcare services, and better housing policies that increase affordable housing and expand rent stabilization. The California Democratic Party must stay committed to repealing Costa-Hawkins and allow local governments to enact stronger renter protections.

Social Justice must be at the heart of everything we do and every decision we make. This means being the party of Black Lives Matter, of Dreamers and undocumented folks, of people with disabilities, of our LGBTQ+ family, of our workers; and the many other communities that seek the refuge of our Party. It also means standing as a wall against those who would seek to harm, discriminate, separate, or strip rights away from those communities.  

A truly universal, publicly-funded single payer healthcare system for all Californians, including our undocumented residents. Healthcare is a right, not a privilege, and I plan on working with our doctors, nurses, activists, labor leaders, and legislators to make sure that we craft a system that reduces costs and saves lives.

California has made huge strides in terms of Criminal Justice Reform, but we have a long way to go to undo the long-term harm of the “war on drugs” and dismantle the prison-industrial complex.  We must continue to fight for the abolition of the racist death penalty, providing transitions for people from incarceration back into their communities, fully eliminate cash bail and bring policing under civilian oversight.  

2. Using Our Power

The CDP is the largest multiracial, multi-generational, progressive organization in California. We can mobilize tremendous power behind our legislative priorities, using both new digital organizing strategies as well as tried-and-true methods like citizen lobbying, protest, and petition drives to hold elected officials accountable to our values and platform.

My administration will combine the existing political department with a new “organizing department”, and hire professionals with experience in mobilization and advocacy. County Parties, Caucuses, and Working Groups will enjoy staff support to help them lobby their elected officials and influence public debate.

3. Joining Coalitions

Passing “heavy lift” legislation like Medicare for All will take working closely with allies in labor, nonprofits, and social movements. The Party should be represented by top-level leadership and staff in existing coalitions and “tables” around our priorities, including housing, education and healthcare reform. Most of our allies are also Party members, and most of our activists are also involved in allied movements and organizations. I personally moved up the ranks in my union from rank-and-file member to Statewide Local President. This experience informed my party activism, and my party activism informed my union organizing work. When the Democratic Party works in coalition with our partners in the labor, LGBTQ+, women’s, disability justice, economic justice and housing justice movements, we become better Democrats. When we demonstrate true solidarity, showing up to support others, not just on election day, we earn trust and build deeper bonds and growing the Party.  

4. Local Issues Are Big Issues

County Parties and local activists should be supported in their efforts to effect change in their communities. In addition to supporting advocacy and lobbying in the State Legislature, the CDP should provide issue-education and strategy training around policy decisions facing cities, counties, school boards and special districts. Down the road, the Party should work more closely with networks of Democratic elected officials, and convene discussions with community activists, housing policy experts, transit advocates, labor unions and progressive academics, providing a counterbalance to conservative, anti-union, and pro-business think tanks and lobbies.



While Democrats have a lot to be proud of in terms of victories in Congressional and State elections, we continue to underperform in local elections. Our voter guides may call these races nonpartisan, but we know they’re anything but. Local governments, like school boards, county supervisors, city councils, and even water districts make crucial decisions that impact people’s lives. These bodies can hinder or overturn progressive legislation, turn irreplaceable open space into suburban sprawl, and fail to meet the basic housing and services needs that people need to live a dignified life. Republicans take advantage of low-information, nonpartisan ballot designations and local "good old boy" networks to continue representing heavily Democratic constituencies. This has to stop.

The CDP can do much more to link these local races to better funded, higher-profile campaigns and create "one-stop shopping" opportunities for activists.  The early Primary means that scores of counties, cities, and special districts will be electing people in just a few months, and we have to be ready.  Our baseline should be a Statewide coordinated field campaign, funded in partnership with our Congressional and Legislative campaigns, that provides information about who and what the Democratic Party supports to every Democratic and Democratic-leaning voter and household. We have the tools, the statewide database and the activist core to do much more than we already do.

In addition, the Party should identify a handful of areas around the State, rural, suburban, and urban, coastal and inland, in which there are nested or overlapping opportunities to flip multiple races in the same area, from Congress all the way down to City Council. We should fund organizers, in partnership with all the relevant campaigns and County Committees to build massive voter ID and GOTV operations with an eye toward converting top ticket victories into top-to-bottom sweeps.

1. A Party-Driven Campaign in Every County

As a former County Party Chair, I know that the work done by our local parties is both the most important and the least glamorous work in Democratic politics. Volunteer-driven, often thankless--I like to say it’s like herding cats...that also carry switchblades. Under the leadership of Chair John Burton, the CDP began doing more outreach and capacity building with County Chairs and other local party leaders to make sure there was a clear line of communication and that it operated as a two-way street.

We have so much more to do to make counties feel supported without being controlled. We also have to take special care when a County finds itself with a targeted legislative or Congressional race--we can’t let the top of the ticket campaign run roughshod over the down-ticket slate, often winning at the expense of those good Democrats running for City Councils and School Boards. There are so many different flavors of Central Committee, and listening and understanding those differences and meeting folks where they’re at while helping them evolve is critical.

Simply put, my goal will be to ensure that every County has a program for 2020 that puts the local Party at the center of a collaborative effort by all the local campaigns. It is the Party’s job, not individual campaigns or consultants, to coordinate campaign activity and provide that “one-stop shopping” experience for activists. I will prioritize providing resources, training, and support to make sure every County Party is up to the task.

While there is no one-size-fits-all model for Central Committee organizing, statewide leadership and staff should provide current and future County Chairs with an up-to-date handbook outlining best practices for financing, organizing, and maintaining coordinated campaigns, coalition-building, leadership development, training activists and interacting with elected officials.  Meetings of County Chairs should be more interactive, practical, and driven by the needs and concerns of grassroots leaders.

Additionally, Democratic Central Committee elections in most counties are coming up in the March Primary- let’s use our GOTV machinery to also educate Dem voters about the role of the County Party and the fact that all Democrats have a say in their local Party organization.

2. A CDP “Owner’s Manual”

Our Party’s structure is highly complex, decentralized, and often counter-intuitive. Even many of our elected officials and longtime political professionals are unclear about our processes and finance system. We need a serious program of internal education about how the Democratic Party works. I will organize workshops, training sessions and instructional videos for all of our members and leaders.  

In addition, we should develop an “owners manual” for the Democratic Party, which could take the form of an interactive website or application, which would allow any Democrat to enter their address and be provided with information on local meetings, clubs, activities, and opportunities to get more involved. This tool should educate members about the Party structure and their role in shaping our platform and deciding on endorsements.

3. A More Unified Party

United we stand. Divided we fall. Activists, Party leaders and elected officials are all part of our Party, and it is when we work together that we are the most successful. It is essential that Democratic legislators have a voice within the Democratic Party. But it is also crucial that legislators respect the dedication and hard work of the activists who make up the majority of the Party’s membership, and that we all respect our democratic procedures.  

This is why I strongly opposed Assembly Bill 84, which would have allowed Legislative leaders to create their own “Party” campaign committees, bypassing the endorsement process as well as our restrictions on corporate donations.  It is also why I worked for more than a year along with representatives of the Legislative caucuses and party activists to reform our delegate appointment and endorsement rules to find a compromise that balanced perspectives from grassroots activists, caucus staff and Legislative leadership.  

This balance must be maintained, but more importantly, the working relationship between elected officials and activists should be deepened. When activists’ only interaction with their representatives is in competition over ADEM delegate positions or contests for local Party offices, we miss opportunities to understand one another better, and this tends to foster long-term divisions. Across the State, there are elected officials who regularly work with and consult grassroots activists. We should lift up those examples, and encourage better communication across the State.

4. From Digital Communications to Digital Organizing

To be a 21st Century Party, we have to up our digital game. Using new communications technology isn’t just about passive communication over social media- it should be about engaging people and encouraging them to take action. Whether its mobilizing for elections, increasing participation in ADEM and Central Committee elections, or advancing our legislative and political priorities, we should be using tools that allow distributed organizing, encourages networking, and helps unleash our true power: millions of California Democrats.


This vision requires all of us. Reach out to us with your ideas at darakaforcdpchair at gmail dot com!

If you’re ready to help me turn this vision into a reality, visit our Donate page or use the form below to endorse.

 I want to help elect Daraka!

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