Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

Let the endorsements begin: The California Democratic Party votes this weekend on its official candidate picks for the June 5 primary.

The party's convention runs today through Sunday, with party Chairman John Burton and former White House aide Van Jones kicking things off tonight in San Diego. Come back to Capitol Alert during the weekend for full coverage.

Political junkies will be paying close watch to Saturday afternoon's endorsing caucuses for districts in which no candidate got enough votes at the pre-endorsement conference to get recommended outright. That would include the 31st Congressional District, where incumbents Howard Berman and Brad Sherman are slugging it out.

The rules are such that if two incumbents are running in the same district, a candidate will need a 60 percent vote in caucus to land an endorsement recommendation. Berman and Sherman are the only two incumbents running in the same district who will be considered by an endorsing caucus.

But wait, there's more. Incumbents who aren't facing another incumbent have a lower threshold to meet: 50 percent of the votes, plus one. That would include Assemblymen Richard Pan of Sacramento, who's running in the 9th Assembly District, and V. Manuel Pérez of Coachella, who's running in the 56th, neither of whom face caucus challengers.

Non-incumbents, meanwhile, need 60 percent to get a recommendation. That makes it a different story for the 50th Assembly District race, which is pitting incumbent Betsy Butler, who moved into the district, against challengers Torie Osborn and Richard Bloom.

You'll find the list of candidates eligible to participate in the endorsing caucuses here. Party officials have posted a memo explaining caucus details at this link.

This link will open up the official pre-endorsement list, which includes six legislative districts for which no endorsement recommendation was made. One of the orphans is the 8th Assembly District, an East Sacramento swing seat where Democrats Ken Cooley, Chris Parker and Larry Miles now face Republican contenders Barbara Ortega and Peter Tateishi.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein is speaking at Saturday's luncheon, as we've reported before, and Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota is talking to the Saturday dinner crowd. Gov. Jerry Brown and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi are among those speaking Saturday morning. Find more information at the party's website.

PET GROOMING: Sen. Juan Vargas, D-San Diego, is holding a presser at 11 a.m. at Nate's Point Dog Park in Balboa Park with pet groomers and pet owners to draw attention to his Senate Bill 969 (also called Lucy's Law, named for a dog) to regulate the pet grooming industry and to the San Diego County Board of Supervisors decision to oppose it.

CAKE AND CANDLES: Sen. Joel Anderson, R-Alpine, turns 52 on Saturday.


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