You know it’s a lefty crowd when radio personality Will Durst kills the room with this line about Dick Cheney: “I did love that he shot a lawyer in the face and got him to apologize.” On second thought, that would probably go down well with any group save the Bar Association, but such was the tenor inside the gilded Grand Lake Theater in Oakland Wednesday at an event organized by Progressive Action: East Bay.
The mostly white assembly filled about half the auditorium at the dinner hour for a tasting menu of local Democratic candidates. Though Progressive Action charged $10 at the door, raising money was not the objective, said founder Gary Lucks, who doubles as an environmental attorney and instructor at the University of California Extension. Rather, it was to hook motivated people up with a smorgasbord of campaigns and get out the vote operations in anticipation of Nov. 7.
“This is principally about people’s time, skills and talent,” Lucks said. “Our focus is to tie people in.”
One of the activists to which attendees could be tethered was Oakland solo Carol Strickman, a criminal appellate attorney who was handing out literature for Project BlueBridge and Take Back Red California, described in an earnest pamphlet as a movement to “connect red-county organizers with blue-county resources.”
Strickman and the rest of the organizers focused their attention on two congressional races: Jerry McNerney’s challenge to Republican Richard Pombo down the peninsula, and Charlie Brown’s campaign against John Doolittle out east, past Sacto. Those are the only two California races to show up on the Cook Political Report’s list (.pdf) of vulnerable GOP seats, though as of Sept. 20 that publication still casts the districts as “likely” Republican. Democrats must overtake 15 seats to win control of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Both McNerney and Brown took the stage at the Grand Lake, along with Matt DeBergalis, treasurer of ActBlue, an online fundraising effort for Democrats. DeBergalis cited polls that put Democrats barely ahead in enough districts to win control of the House. But before the cheers could die down, he had some tough words for the partisan crowd.
“On Election Day, if we’re ahead by three points, we’re going to lose,” he said, owing to the Republican Party’s superiority in terms of organization and game day execution. “We have to counter that by being up by six or seven or 10 points, not three.”
— Dan Levine