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California Democrats gather in Sacramento to celebrate victories

April 13, 2013|By Seema Mehta

California Democrats, gathered for their annual convention in Sacramento this weekend, are expected to celebrate their victories -- holding every statewide elected office, winning super majorities in both houses of the Legislature in November and passing a tax increase to avoid funding cuts to schools.

“California Democrats put it all on the line and came up aces in 2012,” said John Burton, chairman of the state party. “Victories of this magnitude are rare in politics so there’s a lot to be thankful for. But we’re not done yet and in fact, Democrats are just getting started.”

But three of the most notable players are absent from the festivities -- Gov. Jerry Brown is in China on a trade mission, Sen. Dianne Feinstein is hunkered down in Washington as the Senate prepares to debate gun control, one of her top priorities, and Sen. Barbara Boxer is spending the weekend with her family in Rancho Mirage.

Their absence offers a glimpse of the future. The trio have been in elected office for decades and are all in  their 70s. They show few signs of slowing down, but with their absence, talk naturally turns to their potential successors, notably Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom. Both are scheduled to address delegates on Saturday.

Newsom, who is the acting governor with Brown out of the country, has said he would run for governor in 2014 if Brown did not seek reelection. Brown has not announced his plans, but political observers believe that if circumstances remain unchanged it is a near certainty that he will seek another term.

Harris is also believed to be destined for a run for higher office, and some have speculated that President Obama may try to name her attorney general if Eric Holder steps down. Obama caused a kerfuffle last week when he complimented Harris’ looks at a Bay Area fundraiser.

Others who will address the 3,000 party activists include House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Treasurer Bill Lockyer, Controller John Chiang, Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, Assembly Speaker John Perez and Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg.

On Sunday, the program  will be dominated by labor, a major financial and ground-game force in Democratic politics. Top officials with the California Labor Federation, the California Teachers Assn. and the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor will address delegates. They will also elect the state party leadership.

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Twitter: @LATSeema

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