In this white-hot, presidential election season, Waite Hall at Yolo County Fairgrounds was jam-packed with local Democrats on Saturday evening, September 6, celebrating and activating at their “Bean-feed” fundraising event, which was hailed by Congressmember Mike Thompson, former County Supervisor Betsy Marchand and many others as the largest such gathering in history.


Perhaps as many as five hundred folks were in attendance at the 2008 Bean-feed, a heady and vital mix of Woodlanders and Davisites, plus others from West Sacramento and otherwise in the county.


The annual Democratic Bean-feed event was returning to Woodland, after eight years of being hosted in Davis at the Veterans Hall. It is produced by the Yolo County Democratic Party Central Committee, and featured barbequed chicken and various salads in addition to the traditional course of beans.


A clear majority of the Woodland City Council was on hand to help. Vice-Mayor Art Pimentel was the emcee, while Councilmember Jeff Monroe (and others) poured drinks in the bar zone, and Councilmember Martie Dote sold raffle tickets.


____    Political Fare    ____


Congressmember Thompson remarked at length on the obvious strength of the local Party, “lists of elected Democrats just go on and on,” exclaiming his great pleasure in being present, and stating his detailed views about the urgent importance of the 2008 election. Campaigning for his fith term, Thompson related that a lot has changed in two years, since Democrats gained control of Congress — but not nearly enough.


The congressmember said that Republican Vice-Presidential Candidate, Sara Palin, may not have shown good judgment by quickly becoming antagonistic with the press, since it’s now turning and churning up a whole lot of interesting information about her political record (Ed. note: e.g., her mayoral hiring of belt-way lobbyists to obtain federal funding, keeping for other purposes federal money she’s bragged about refusing to accept, her former interest in banning certain books from libraries, and among other items, her referring to the Iraq War as being a task sent to us from God).


____    Key Races in Adjacent Congressional Districts    ____


Thompson indicated significant opportunities for local Democrats to become involved and effective in other, crucial and close-by congressional races, such as an attempt by Jeff Morris of Weaverville (a Trinity County Supervisor) to unseat Wally Herger, an eleven-term, Republican incumbent of the northern Sacramento Valley, whose district includes northern and western Yolo County, wrapping around Woodland and then extending into its southern, more upscale, more Republican portion.


Morris brought with him to this event a prominent, former Mayor of Redding, Charlie Moss, whom Thompson noted for his valuable help in prior campaigns, when Thompson’s congressional district included Shasta County, explaining that such a powerful endorsement bodes very well for Morris’ challenge to Herger, within the northern end of that district. Woodland and Yolo County are at its southern end.


Yolo County Supervisor, Matt Rexroad (a Republican) made the following comments about Jeff Morris on his local blogsite:


Jeff Morris is a Supervisor in Trinity County.  He is a friend.
I really like this guy.
He is now a candidate for Congress against Wally Herger.  I don’t think I can endorse Jeff but he is a great guy.  Unfortunately he is not running for re-election to the Board of Supervisors in order to make this Congressional bid.
He used to live in Woodland.


Thompson also noted that the election to fill John Doolittle’s congressional district seat — which Doolittle recently resigned under legal and political pressure stemming from the political corruption probe regarding Jack Abramoff — is now truly competitive.


Democrat Charley Brown is roughly equal with Republican Tom McClintock in recent polling, said Thompson, who encouraged Democrats in his own district (since he’s a lead-pipe cinch for re-election) to work within nearby, northern Sierra areas for Brown. Thompson said he needs the help of Brown and Morris, to best accomplish valuable political goals.


McClintock, a longtime, (some say, ultra-) conservative state legislator, is perceived as somewhat of a “carpetbagger,” because he moved from the state’s central coast into the Sierras for the precise purpose of gaining this congressional office. He defeated a local state assemblymember, Doug Ose, by a surprisingly substantial margin in the primary election, interesting and appealing to more conservative Republicans.


Of course, Republican moderates who voted for Ose during the primary may well consider Brown; as being a less ideological and more pragmatic choice for this open (no entrenched incumbent) seat — plus, as being best able to work with a Congress controlled by Democrats.


____    Yolo United    ____


Thompson applauded the quality of a piece of local campaign material, produced by Yolo United (countywide Democratic Party organization): a consolidated list of candidates and propositions on a single door-hanger.


Thompson’s local aide, Ellie Fairclough was recipient of the Party’s annual, ‘Democrat of the Year’ award, and 93 year-old Edie Weir was also honored, associated with one of many standing ovations during this event.


Leslie Marcus, chairperson for Woodland’s chapter of Yolo United, coordinated the bar and other aspects of the event; while her husband Bill valiantly served with Monroe, swiftly dispensing various beverages and occasional glasses of ice for ample quantities of water upon the tables.


At one point in the festivities, Leslie Marcus well and gently sang a few relevant songs, one based on a Beatles tune. These songs were well received by the group.


After all of the introductions, speeches and announcements, a group of Japanese (Taiko) drummers with vigorous excitement entertained in an inspirational fashion; although, the related decibel-level distracted from relaxed, political chit-chat toward the event’s conclusion. Assemblymember Lois Wolk, who displays a diligently retail (grass-roots) posture and is intent on prevailing in a relatively close state Senate race, was observed holding serious conversations outside the building.


Marcus is also in charge of operating Woodland’s Democratic Party Headquarters (444 Main St.), which has been hosting gatherings of local partymembers during the national party conventions.


For the Republican nominee’s acceptance speech, Marcus arranged this space as a nerf-ball / ping-pong ball gallery, where partymembers could pummel the convention (television) broadcast. Both John McCain and Sara Palin received a lot of attention in this manner. Even Cindy McCain exercised some wrists and elbows.


“Woodland Headquarters for Yolo United (444 Main St.) will be open for such party events on all four evenings of the presidential and vice-presidential debates,” according to Marcus.


Woodland’s Republican (Main St.) Headquarters was observed to be closed and darkened during John McCain’s acceptance speech.


____    Many Elected Officials in Attendance    ____


Many elected and appointed officials attended this year’s Bean-feed, including: Yolo County Superior Court Chief Judge, Dave Rosenberg, Yolo County Sheriff, Ed Prieto, Yolo County Public Defender, Barry Melton, and local Assemblymember, Lois Wolk. State Senator Mike Machado’s district aide, Tony Wong, was present in the hall.


Three Yolo County’s Supervisors were present: Mike McGowan, Helen Thomson and Mariko Yamada. Supervisor-elect Jim Provenza was there, as well. He soon takes Yamada’s seat on the County board — and Yamada is expected to claim the local Assembly seat in November’s general election after winning the primary election contest with West Sacramento’s Mayor, Christopher Cabaldon, who also attended the Bean-feed.


____    Yamada Headed for State Assembly    ____


During her moments before the crowd, Yamada thanked Chief Judge Rosenberg for helping so much at the outset of her political career and expressed her firm intention to well represent everyone in this assembly district.


Yamada was outspent and far out-endorsed (in certain ways) by Cabaldon, yet she and her campaign manager, Brian Micek, managed a primary-ballot victory which was not particularly narrow.


Cabaldon hit a rough spot in the road – smack in the middle of this campaign – when his fancy sports car was suddenly whacked with a street-impound in downtown Sacramento, for non-payment of many hundreds of dollars of parking tickets. One could not reasonably conceive of Yamada in such posture, which may have elevated the sophistication of voter comparisons between these two candidates.


Cabaldon’s endorsement list resembled a majority of local elected officials, and his campaign coffers were quite adequate. He was assumed on such a basis to be the slight (or for some folks, overwhelming) favorite in this race, which is considered to connect to a safe-seat in the state Assembly for a Democrat (replacing Lois Wolk, former local official, now termed-out as Assemblymember, who is campaigning to represent the state Senate district now served by also termed-out Mike Machado of San Joaquin County).


Yet, Yamada’s campaign suddenly persuaded former Democratic Party Gubernatorial Candidate, Phil Angilides, to endorse her in a pervasive mailing and public-relations element, attempting to obtain some political balance. Something worked, as Yamada scored a solid victory.


Apparently, Sacramento Bee columnist Marcos Breton has been describing this slightly surprising / unexpected outcome as the result of political efforts by organized labor, such as California Teachers Association, much of which went with Yamada, while neglecting that Cabaldon received bountiful resources from alternative educationally related advocacy — and clearly spent enough money to win. It seems that voters at the grass-roots simply had more political faith in Yamada, despite the somewhat tilted, campaign-endorsement landscape.


____    Key Local Race    ____


Wolk’s state Senate bid was highlighted as the most significant local campaign. This district becomes increasingly, politically moderate, as it extends into San Joaquin County and her Republican rival, she claims, is keeping his political-party affiliation off of his campaign materials. Wolk believes that this Republican candidate is too conservative for this district and is attempting to portray himself as being moderate, misleading voters about his actual political nature. “He even refused to ban lead paint from children’s toys,” she indicated.


Wolk also described her opponent (a Republicican assemblymember) as having voted against the provision of essential scientific and technological expertise related to the state Air Resources Board, when he represents a district with some of the worst air-quality in the nation.


The state Senate district for which Wolk campaigns approaches some of the very hottest and brightest of national, political warfare: Congressmember Jerry McNerney’s seat, recently wrested from the Republicans.


According to Congressmember Thompson, this particular election contest is, “the number one national priority,” of Republican congressional efforts, encouraging interested local Democrats to now become involved, helping both Wolk and McNerney, as well as other Democratic candidates.