|Lieutenant Governor||Eleni Kounalakis|
|Senate President pro tempore||Toni Atkins|
|Assembly Speaker||Robert Rivas|
|Headquarters||1830 9th Street, Sacramento CA 95811|
|National affiliation||Democratic Party|
|Seats in the U.S. Senate|
2 / 2
|Seats in the U.S. House|
40 / 52
|Statewide Executive Offices|
8 / 8
|Seats in the State Senate|
32 / 40
|Seats in the State Assembly|
62 / 80
With 43.5% of the state's registered voters as of 2018, the Democratic Party has the highest number of registrants of any political party in California. It is currently the dominant party in the state, and is one of the strongest affiliates of the national Democratic Party. The party currently controls the majority of California's U.S. House seats, both U.S. Senate seats, the governorship, and has supermajorities in both houses of the state legislature.
Since the beginning of the 1850s, issues regarding slavery had effectively split the California Democratic Party. By the 1853 general election campaign, large majorities of pro-slavery Democrats from Southern California, calling themselves the Chivalry (later branded as Lecompton Democrats), threatened to divide the state in half, should the state not accept slavery. John Bigler, along with former state senator and lieutenant governor David C. Broderick from the previous McDougall Administration, formed the Free Soil Democratic faction, modeled after the federal Free Soil Party that argued against the spread of slavery.
The Democrats effectively split into two camps, with both the Chivalry and Free Soilers nominating their own candidates for the 1853 election. By 1857, the party had split into the Lecompton and Anti-Lecompton factions. Lecompton members supported the Kansas Lecompton Constitution, a document explicitly allowing slavery into the territory, while Anti-Lecompton faction members were in opposition to slavery's expansion. The violence between supporting and opposition forces led to the period known as Bleeding Kansas. Splits in the Democratic Party, as well as the power vacuum created by the collapse of the Whig Party, helped facilitate the rise of the American Party both in state and federal politics. In particular, state voters voted Know-Nothings into the California State Legislature, and elected J. Neely Johnson as governor in the 1855 general elections.
During the 1859 general elections, Lecompton Democrats voted for Milton Latham, who had briefly lived in the American South, as their nominee for governor. Anti-Lecomptons in turn selected John Currey as their nominee. The infant Republican Party, running in its first gubernatorial election, selected businessman Leland Stanford as its nominee. To make matters more complicated, during the campaign, Senator David C. Broderick, an Anti-Lecompton Democrat, was killed in a duel by slavery supporter and former state Supreme Court Justice David Terry on September 13.
Late 19th and early 20th centuries Edit
Until the early 1880s the Republican Party held the state through the power and influence of railroad men. The Democratic Party responded by taking an anti-corporate, anti freedom of attainment position. In 1894, Democrat James Budd was elected to the governorship, and the Democratic Party attempted to make good on their promises to reform the booming railroad industry. The party began working closely with the state's railroad commission to create fair rates for passengers and to eliminate monopolies the railroad companies held over the state. The main effort focused on making railroads public avenues of transportation similar to streets and roads. This measure passed and was a great victory for the Democrats, but the honeymoon would not last. Budd was to be the last Democratic governor for thirty years. The struggle between the anti-monopolists and the railroad companies was, however, a key and defining issue for the Democratic Party for some time.
Despite their relative lack of power during this period, the Democrats in California were still active in pursuing reform. The party supported fairer railroad policies and crusaded for tariff reform. The party also supported the large scale railroad strikes that sprung up statewide. The corruption of the time in both the railroad companies and the government led to a change in political dynamic. The people of the state moved away from both of the main parties and the Progressive Movement began.
While the Progressives were successful in creating positive reform and chasing out corruption, the movement drained away many of the Democratic Party's members. As their movement ended, the Republicans won the governorship, but the Democratic Party had a distinct voter advantage.
In 1932, Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected president, and the Power balance between the Republicans and the Democrats in California equalized. However, as Roosevelt's New Deal policies began to raise the nation out of the depression, Democratic strength mounted. Culbert Olson was elected to the governorship, but his term was rocky, and both parties organized against him. Shortly thereafter, Earl Warren and the Republicans regained power again.
The California Democratic Party needed a new strategy to regain power in the state. A strategy of re-organization and popular mobilization emerged and resulted in the creation of the California Democratic Council. The CDC, as it became known, was a way for members of the party from all levels of government to come together, and, as such, the party became more unified. A new network of politically-minded civilians and elected officials emerged, and the party was stronger for it. Despite the fact that the council struggled in the Cold War era, due to Republican strength and issues such as the Vietnam War, it still exists today.
By 1992, California was hurting more than most states from a national recession which had started in 1990, causing incumbent Republican president George H. W. Bush's approval rating to tank within the state, giving an opening for the Democratic party to break through and eventually become the largest party. Starting with the double digit victory of Bill Clinton, this became the first time a Democrat had carried the state of California since 1964. Afterwards, a consolidation of the Latino and Asian vote would strengthen the Democratic party's hold in California, when these groups had previously been considered core Republican supporters within the state.
The California Democratic Party began re-organizing in 1991, and in 1992, the party won the greatest victories in the history of California. President Clinton won California's 54 electoral votes, and two women, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, were elected as U.S. senators.
Even though redistricting (re-apportionment) was executed by a Republican State Supreme Court, California Democrats in November 1992 had increased their margin at all levels—Congressional, state assembly and in the state senate.
In 1994, California Democrats suffered a setback by losing the governor's race for the fourth time in a row, and the Democrats became a minority in the State Assembly. However, despite $29 million spent by Republican U.S. Senate candidate Michael Huffington, Democratic incumbent U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein won re-election.
The 1996 elections proved to be a dramatic turnaround from the results of 1994, as President Bill Clinton won California's 54 electoral votes for a second consecutive time. Three Republican Congressman were also defeated, including Bob Dornan in the conservative stronghold of Orange County. In addition, California Democrats also regained the majority in the State Assembly, while adding to their majority in the state senate.
1998 was a banner year for California Democrats. An overwhelming majority of Californians elected Gray Davis, the first Democratic governor in 16 years, and re-elected U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer. Six of eight candidates for statewide constitutional offices won, including Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante, Attorney General Bill Lockyer, Treasurer Phil Angelides, Controller Kathleen Connell, and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin. In addition, California Democrats increased their majority in the State Assembly from 43 to 48, and also in the state senate from 23 to 25.
21st century Edit
Holding off a national Republican trend in 2002, California Democrats won all eight statewide offices for the first time since 1882. Governor Gray Davis, Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante, Attorney General Bill Lockyer, and State Treasurer Phil Angelides were all re-elected, while Steve Westly was elected State Controller, Kevin Shelley was elected Secretary of State, John Garamendi was elected Insurance Commissioner, and Jack O'Connell was elected State Superintendent of Public Instruction.
This feat (winning all statewide offices) was repeated in 2010, when, despite massive Republican gains nationwide, the California Democratic Party swept all the statewide offices being contested, maintained its 34–19 edge in the 53-member U.S. House delegation, and won one additional seat (thus increasing their majority) in the State Assembly, while maintaining their current majority in the state senate.
In the 2012 election, California Democrats experienced tremendous success once again: Not only did President Barack Obama win California's 55 electoral votes again, with over 60% of the vote, and Senator Dianne Feinstein was re-elected with over 62% of the vote, but California Democrats – despite running in federal and legislative districts that were redrawn by an independent redistricting commission for the first time, per the passage of Propositions 11 and 20, and the implementation of a new blanket primary – also won a net gain of four House seats by defeating three GOP incumbents and winning an open GOP seat, and won a supermajority in both houses of the state legislature, a feat which the party last accomplished in 1882. Geographically, the 2012 elections also witnessed the California Democratic Party make inroads in traditionally Republican areas: San Diego, the second largest city in California and a long-time GOP stronghold, elected a Democratic mayor for the first time since 1988. California Democrats also notched up victories in other traditionally Republican areas, such as the Inland Empire, Ventura County, the Central Valley, and Orange County.
The California Democratic Party is a "political party that has detailed statutory provisions applicable to its operation", which are in division 7, part 2 of the California Elections Code. The Democratic State Central Committee, which is the governing body of the California Democratic Party, functions pursuant to its standing rules and bylaws. The Democratic State Central Committee is composed of approximately 2,900 members that are appointed by Democratic elected officials and nominees, elected by county central committees, and elected in Assembly district election meetings, in roughly equal proportion. The executive board is composed of approximately 320 members and holds all powers and duties of the California Democratic Party while the state central committee or its conventions are not in session.
There are semi-autonomous county central committees for each of California's 54 counties. Each county central committee elects 4 members, plus a member for each 10,000 registered Democrats in that county, to the state central committee. The state central committee bylaws specify that county central committees may provide for the election of their allocation of membership on an at-large basis, or by county supervisor districts or Assembly districts, or by any combination thereof.
"Assembly district election meetings" are held biennially in January in every odd-numbered year (immediately after elections for the governor and president) within each of California's 80 Assembly districts. Participation is open to all registered Democrats within the Assembly district. Each meeting elects 14 members to the state central committee, divided as equally as possible between men and women.
County central committees Edit
At every direct primary election, a county central committee is elected in each county. The California Elections Code specifies how county central committee members are elected. Candidates for county central committees are nominated pursuant to division 8, part 1, chapter 1 of the Elections Code, which defines requirements such as the number of Democratic registered voters required (20–40) to sign a nomination. A county central committee may also select its members at any time by holding a caucus or convention or by using any other method of selection approved by the committee. If the number of candidates nominated for election does not exceed the number of candidates to be elected, the candidates are not listed on the ballots, but are instead declared elected by the board of supervisors.
|County party||Elected members|
|Los Angeles County Democratic Party||There are 7 county central committee members elected at-large by Democratic voters in each California State Assembly district contained wholly or partially within Los Angeles County.|
|San Diego County Democratic Party||There are 6 county central committee members elected by Democratic voters in each California State Assembly district contained within San Diego County.|
|Orange County Democratic Party||There are 6 county central committee members elected by Democratic voters in each California State Assembly district contained within Orange County at the primary election in each even numbered year.|
|Santa Clara County Democratic Party||There are 6 county central committee members elected by Democratic voters in each California State Assembly district contained within Santa Clara County.|
|Alameda County Democratic Party||There are 6 county central committee members elected by Democratic voters in each California State Assembly district contained within Alameda County.|
|Sacramento County Democratic Party||There are 6 county central committee members elected by Democratic voters in each supervisor district in Sacramento County.|
|San Francisco Democratic Party||The 24-member county central committee is elected from the two Assembly districts in San Francisco, with a 14/10 member split between the two Assembly districts based on number of registered Democrats.|
|San Mateo County Democratic Party||There are 22 elected members of the San Mateo County Democratic Central Committee. They are elected by Democratic voters in each County Supervisor District every four years in the Presidential election cycle.|
|Santa Cruz County Democratic Party||There are 21 elected members of the Santa Cruz County Democratic Central Committee. They are elected by Democratic voters in each County Supervisor District every four years in the Presidential election cycle.|
|Fresno County Democratic Party||There are 23 elected members of the Fresno County Democratic Central Committee. They are elected by Democratic voters in each County Supervisor District every four years in the Presidential election cycle.|
List of chairs Edit
- George T. Marye (1888–1893)
- William Hays Alford (1896)
- Seth Mann (1898–1900)
- John E. Raker (1908–1910)
- Claude F. Purkitt (1922–1928)
- Harry H. McPike (1929–1930)
- Zachary T. Malaby (1931)
- Maurice Harrison (1932-1934)
- Culbert L. Olson (1934)
- Clifford C. Anglim (1937)
- Paul Peek (1939)
- William M. Malone (1940-1942)
- William M. Malone (1944–1946)
- James Roosevelt (1946-1948)
- Oliver Carter (1949)
- Glenn M. Anderson (1950–1952)
- George Miller Jr. (1952-1954)
- Elizabeth C. Snyder (1954–1956)
- Roger Kent (1958)
- William Munnell (1959-1960)
- Charles Warren (1966-1968)
- Charles Manatt (1969–1973)
- John Burton (1973–1974)
- Bert Coffey (1977–1979)
- Richard J. O'Neill (1979–1981)
- Nancy Pelosi (1981–1983)
- Peter D. Kelly III (1983–1985)
- Betty Smith (1985–1987)
- Peter D. Kelly III (1987–1989)
- Jerry Brown (1989–1991)
- Phil Angelides (1991–1993)
- Bill Press (1993–1996)
- Art Torres (1996–2009)
- John Burton (2009–2017)
- Eric C. Bauman (2017–2018)
- Alex Gallardo-Rooker (acting, 2018–2019)
- Rusty Hicks (2019–present)
The Democratic State Central Committee of the California Democratic Party of California is organized into nine standing committees: Platform, Resolutions, Rules, Legislation, Affirmative Action, Credentials, Finance, Organizational Development, and Voter Services. Its headquarters are at 1830 9th St Sacramento, California.
The California Democratic Party published a 2022 platform.
Current elected officials Edit
The following is a list of Democratic statewide and legislative officeholders, as of January 2, 2023 (federal office holders as of January 20, 2021);
Statewide constitutional officers Edit
After the last election, Democrats maintained control over all eight elected statewide constitutional offices:
- Insurance Commissioner: Ricardo Lara
- Superintendent of Public Instruction: Tony Thurmond (this office is officially non-partisan, and Thurmond was elected as a non-partisan)
Federal executive officials Edit
Federal officeholders for the 118th United States Congress Edit
U.S. Senate Edit
Both of California's seats in the U.S. Senate have been under Democratic control since 1992:
U.S. House of Representatives Edit
- CA-02: Jared Huffman
- CA-04: Mike Thompson
- CA-06: Ami Bera
- CA-07: Doris Matsui
- CA-08: John Garamendi
- CA-09: Josh Harder
- CA-10: Mark DeSaulnier
- CA-11: Nancy Pelosi
- CA-12: Barbara Lee
- CA-14: Eric Swalwell
- CA-15: Kevin Mullin
- CA-16: Anna Eshoo
- CA-17: Ro Khanna
- CA-18: Zoe Lofgren
- CA-19: Jimmy Panetta
- CA-21: Jim Costa
- CA-24: Salud Carbajal
- CA-25: Raul Ruiz
- CA-26: Julia Brownley
- CA-28: Judy Chu
- CA-29: Tony Cárdenas
- CA-30: Adam Schiff
- CA-31: Grace Napolitano
- CA-32: Brad Sherman
- CA-33: Pete Aguilar
- CA-34: Jimmy Gomez
- CA-35: Norma Torres
- CA-36: Ted Lieu
- CA-37: Sydney Kamlager
- CA-38: Linda Sánchez
- CA-39: Mark Takano
- CA-42: Robert Garcia
- CA-43: Maxine Waters
- CA-44: Nanette Barragán
- CA-46: Lou Correa
- CA-47: Katie Porter
- CA-49: Mike Levin
- CA-50: Scott Peters
- CA-51: Sara Jacobs
- CA-52: Juan Vargas
Board of Equalization, State Senate, and State Assembly Edit
Board of Equalization Edit
Democrats hold four of the five seats on the State Board of Equalization: three of the four district-based seats, and the at-large ex officio seat reserved for the incumbent State Controller, who, in this instance, is Democrat Malia Cohen.
- 2nd District: Sally Lieber
- 3rd District: Tony Vazquez
- 4th District: Mike Schaefer
- State Controller: Malia Cohen
State Senate Edit
- SD 2: Mike McGuire (Majority Leader)
- SD 3: Bill Dodd
- SD 4: Marie Alvarado-Gil
- SD 5: Susan Eggman
- SD 7: Steve Glazer
- SD 8: Angelique Ashby
- SD 9: Nancy Skinner
- SD 10: Aisha Wahab
- SD 11: Scott Wiener
- SD 13: Josh Becker
- SD 14: Anna Caballero
- SD 15: Dave Cortese
- SD 16: Melissa Hurtado
- SD 17: John Laird
- SD 18: Steve Padilla
- SD 19: Monique Limón
- SD 20: Caroline Menjivar
- SD 22: Susan Rubio
- SD 24: Ben Allen
- SD 25: Anthony Portantino
- SD 26: Maria Elena Durazo
- SD 27: Henry Stern
- SD 28: Lola Smallwood-Cuevas
- SD 29: Josh Newman
- SD 30: Bob Archuleta
- SD 31: Richard Roth
- SD 33: Lena Gonzalez
- SD 34: Tom Umberg
- SD 35: Steven Bradford
- SD 37: Dave Min
- SD 38: Catherine Blakespear
- SD 39: Toni Atkins (Senate President pro Tempore)
State Assembly Edit
- AD 2: Jim Wood
- AD 4: Cecilia Aguiar-Curry
- AD 6: Kevin McCarty
- AD 10: Stephanie Nguyen
- AD 11: Lori Wilson
- AD 12: Damon Connolly
- AD 13: Carlos Villapudua
- AD 14: Buffy Wicks
- AD 15: Tim Grayson
- AD 16: Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (Assistant Speaker pro tempore)
- AD 17: Matt Haney
- AD 18: Mia Bonta
- AD 19: Phil Ting
- AD 20: Liz Ortega
- AD 21: Diane Papan
- AD 23: Marc Berman
- AD 24: Alex Lee
- AD 25: Ash Kalra
- AD 26: Evan Low
- AD 27: Esmeralda Soria
- AD 28: Gail Pellerin
- AD 29: Robert Rivas
- AD 30: Dawn Addis
- AD 31: Joaquin Arambula
- AD 35: Jasmeet Bains
- AD 36: Eduardo Garcia
- AD 37: Gregg Hart
- AD 38: Steve Bennett
- AD 39: Juan Carrillo
- AD 40: Pilar Schiavo
- AD 41: Chris Holden
- AD 42: Jacqui Irwin
- AD 43: Luz Rivas
- AD 44: Laura Friedman
- AD 45: James Ramos
- AD 46: Jesse Gabriel (Majority Whip)
- AD 48: Blanca Rubio
- AD 49: Mike Fong
- AD 50: Eloise Reyes (Majority Leader)
- AD 51: Rick Zbur
- AD 52: Wendy Carrillo
- AD 53: Freddie Rodriguez
- AD 54: Miguel Santiago
- AD 55: Isaac Bryan
- AD 56: Lisa Calderon
- AD 57: Reggie Jones-Sawyer
- AD 58: Sabrina Cervantes
- AD 60: Corey Jackson
- AD 61: Tina McKinnor
- AD 62: Anthony Rendon (Speaker of the Assembly)
- AD 64: Blanca Pacheco
- AD 65: Mike Gipson (Majority Caucus Chair)
- AD 66: Al Muratsuchi
- AD 67: Sharon Quirk-Silva
- AD 68: Avelino Valencia
- AD 69: Josh Lowenthal
- AD 73: Cottie Petrie-Norris
- AD 76: Brian Maienschein
- AD 77: Tasha Boerner Horvath (Assistant Majority Leader for Policy and Research)
- AD 78: Chris Ward (Assistant Majority Whip)
- AD 79: Akilah Weber
- AD 80: David Alvarez
Mayoral offices Edit
Most of the state's major cities have Democratic mayors. As of 2023, Democrats control the mayor's offices in eight of California's ten largest cities:
Election results Edit
|Election||Gubernatorial candidate||Votes||Vote %||Result|
|1849||Did not endorse a candidate|
|1855||John Bigler||46,225||47.47%||Lost N|
|1857||John B. Weller||53,122||56.71%||Won|
|1859||John Currey||31,298||30.46%||Lost N|
|1861||John Conness||30,944||25.63%||Lost N|
|1863||John G. Downey||44,622||40.97%||Lost N|
|1867||Henry Huntly Haight||49,895||54.03%||Won|
|1871||Henry Huntly Haight||57,520||47.89%||Lost N|
|1879||Hugh J. Glenn||47,667||29.75%||Lost N|
|1890||Edward B. Pond||117,184||46.42%||Lost N|
|1898||James G. Maguire||129,261||45.03%||Lost N|
|1902||Franklin Knight Lane||143,783||47.22%||Lost N|
|1906||Theodore Arlington Bell||117,645||37.7%||Lost N|
|1910||Theodore Arlington Bell||154,835||40.14%||Lost N|
|1914||J. B. Curtin||116,121||12.53%||Lost N|
|1918||Did not field a candidate|
|1922||Thomas Lee Woolwine||347,530||35.98%||Lost N|
|1926||Justus Wardell||282,451||24.69%||Lost N|
|1930||Milton K. Young||333,973||24.13%||Lost N|
|1934||Upton Sinclair||879,537||37.75%||Lost N|
|1942||Culbert Olson||932,995||41.75%||Lost N|
|1946||Earl Warren (Republican) won party primary|
|1950||James Roosevelt||1,333,856||35.14%||Lost N|
|1954||Richard P. Graves||1,739,368||43.16%||Lost N|
|1966||Pat Brown||2,749,174||42.27%||Lost N|
|1970||Jesse Unruh||2,938,607||45.14%||Lost N|
|1982||Tom Bradley||3,787,669||48.09%||Lost N|
|1986||Tom Bradley||2,781,714||37.38%||Lost N|
|1990||Dianne Feinstein||3,525,197||45.78%||Lost N|
|1994||Kathleen Brown||3,519,799||40.62%||Lost N|
|2003 (recall)||Cruz Bustamante (best-performing)||2,724,874||31.5%||Lost N|
|2006||Phil Angelides||3,376,732||38.91%||Lost N|
|2021 (recall)||Kevin Paffrath (best-performing)||706,778||9.6%||Recall failed|
See also Edit
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- California Elections Code § 7050
- West's California Jurisprudence 3d. Vol. 28. Bancroft-Whitney Company. 1972. p. 615. OCLC 605100.
The organization, operation, and functions of the Democratic Party of California are specifically regulated by the Elections Code.
- Eu v. San Francisco County Democratic Central Committee (1989), 489 U.S. 214 Archived 2014-03-12 at the Wayback Machine. "The State of California heavily regulates its political parties. … The California Elections Code (Code) provides that the 'official governing bodies' for such a party are its 'state convention,' 'state central committee,' and 'county central committees,' …"
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- By-Laws Article II, § 4(f)
- By-Laws Article VI, § 1(a)(1)
- By-Laws Article VI, § 1(a)(2)
- By-Laws Article II, § 1(a)(4), § 5(a), § 5(b)
- California Elections Code § 7225 et seq.
- California Elections Code §§ 7200–7216
- California Elections Code § 7227
- California Elections Code § 8062
- California Elections Code § 8068
- California Elections Code § 7230
- California Elections Code § 7228
- California Elections Code § 7203
- Constitution and By-Laws of the Los Angeles County Democratic Central Committee, 10 April 2012, p. 2
- California Elections Code § 7202
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- San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee Bylaws[permanent dead link], 23 January 2013, Article 2, § 1(a)(1)
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