At the January 11, 2021 general meeting of the DCCSC, California Democratic Party Chair Rusty Hicks addressed membership, and took questions.
A Naval Reservist, attorney and former Assembly staffer for now Congressman Ted Lieu, Rusty Hicks was California Political Director of Obama’s 2008 campaign, Executive Director of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor representing 800,000 union workers in Southern California, and elected to CDP Chair in 2019.
Chairman Hicks is running for re-election to State Party Chair at the CADEM Convention in April 2021. Accompanied at the meeting by campaign associate Joe Armenta, Rusty reviewed statewide activities of the CDP in 2020, including: The Coordinated Campaign, for which Joe was the North State Regional contact; Days of Action; Census phone banks; and the expansion of online resources for local party organizations.
His appearance at the meeting came just five days after the Capitol Insurrection of January 6, and Rusty lamented an atmosphere that was “becoming all too common,” where political posturing shifts from policy disagreements into “violent territory.” He noted a recent LA Times story about Shasta County Supervisors who, on January 5, chose to defy a ban on virtual meetings and invited belligerent constituents into the chamber.
Rusty acknowledged the need to talk more directly to rural voters about the Democratic vision, and to provide more training infrastructure for local candidates. He emphasized the necessity of year-round organizing, and the importance of investing in communications infrastructure at the state party level to benefit all regions of California. “Our party has been a vehicle to elect democrats, not a vehicle to building power,” he said. “Electing democrats is a byproduct. We have to engage with voters on a year-round basis.”
In answer to a question by former Assembly District 1 candidate Elizabeth Betancourt about a strategy for funding the party through small donors, Rusty pointed to a new campaign for monthly donations he strongly advocated for, and which has raised $2 million in the past year. He pledged to continue the expansion of small dollar contributions to fund state party programs by doubling the small donor base.
That small dollar initiative, DEM 2022 (“Donate Every Month”), is intended to make up for dwindling corporate donors in certain sectors. The CDP already had bans on donations from the tobacco industry, gun manufacturers and oil companies, but in 2020 added for-profit prisons, for-profit colleges, for-profit healthcare and the payday loan industry to the list of banned contributions. DEM 2022: DONATE HERE
Rusty warned that following the 2020 Census, redistricting might result in the loss of a congressional seat in California, but that it would likely shift in Southern California. California’s independent commission, which has become a model for election reform, will meet after the 2020 census results are finalized.