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Oceanside Democrats feud over membership

Club stacking just part of growing pains?

"I've been hearing a lot of stuff," says Rob Howard.
"I've been hearing a lot of stuff," says Rob Howard.

Latest figures show that only three of San Diego County’s 18 cities (Poway, Santee, Coronado) are majority Republican.

In five cities, Republicans are the third-largest voting group surpassed in numbers by those who claim “No Party Preference.”

Since February of 2019 the total voter registration for all voters in the county grew by 60,000. Yet due to migration from the Republican and No Party Preference columns, the Democrat voter tally countywide actually increased by 90,000.

Esther Sanchez is thought to be the Democratic front-runner for Oceanside mayor.

As the ranks of Democrats grow in San Diego County, competition for the endorsements from Democrat sub-groups is getting ugly. There are nearly 50 Democratic groups in the county which are identified by geographical area (Democratic Club of Vista, Chula Vista Democratic Club) or by cause (Democrats for Peace in the Mideast, Latina Women’s Democratic Club).

Oceanside mayoral hopeful Ruben Major was not happy with the dysfunction he claims plagues DEMCCO, the long-time Carlsbad-based Democratic club that serves Oceanside and Carlsbad. He took dibs on the name Democratic Club of Oceanside, and launched a Facebook page asking for new members. Founding members included other Oceanside city council candidates who were also looking for endorsements that eluded them at DEMCCO.

Two months ago the Oceanside Democratic Club elected its officers. Major stepped back from its steering committee but remains a member.

“I might not get endorsed by the club I founded,” says Major. What he didn’t anticipate was something known as “club stacking,” where outsiders are brought in to join, just to sway endorsements. The only requirements for membership in the Oceanside Democratic Club is that you pay $25 and be a registered Democrat. You don’t have to live in Oceanside to be a member of the Oceanside Democratic Club.

Ruben Major: “I might not get endorsed by the club I founded.”

Noticing that a lot of non-locals he had never heard of had joined, Major asked that only Oceanside residents be allowed to vote to endorse Oceanside candidates. “It didn’t go well,” he said. Major says, for instance, there are people in the new club who have never engaged in Oceanside issues, but who are known to have pro-union leanings. “As I understand it, they go around the county, joining other clubs, and vote to endorse the candidate connected with their special interest.”

Zack Beck was elected as the first president of the Oceanside Democratic Club. He says the whole point of the new club is to address the Oceanside issues that were missed by DEMCCO which has traditionally held its monthly meetings in Carlsbad. “Many Oceanside Democrats wanted to have their own club based in Oceanside that’s focused primarily on Oceanside political affairs.” But Beck did not disclose how many of the 70 members don’t live in Oceanside.

Beck says any Oceanside Democratic Club member can vote on endorsements at this Sunday’s teleconferenced meeting as long as they have been a member since June 30.

Will Rodriguez-Kennedy is the chair of the San Diego County Democratic Party. He admits that club stacking is a very real problem that has plagued local Dem clubs and their endorsement process.

He says there are rules that prevent a club from banning members based on where they live. But Rodriguez-Kennedy says he is about to introduce new rules that he hopes will be adopted by the central committee that will clean up the club stacking mess.

“This has been a problem in the past,” says Rodriguez-Kennedy. “I’m the first chair to even look at this. My intent is to rein in [campaign] consultants. We can’t control how consultants interact with politicians, but what we can do, is if we identify consultants who are identified with club stacking, we can tell politicians that if they do business with them, they will not be doing business with us.”

Chula Vista-based Jesus Cardenas and his Grass Roots Resources was fingered last year for its involvement in getting a number of new Democratic clubs to spring up in the South Bay to impact the endorsement process. Some Oceanside insiders claim the new Oceanside Democratic Club has been stacked with out-of-town members who will vote to endorse political newcomer Rob Howard for mayor. Howard's candidacy may drain Democratic votes away from North River Farms outspoken opponent Esther Sanchez. Councilwoman Sanchez is thought by many to be the Democratic front-runner for Oceanside mayor.

Rodriguez-Kennedy would not comment if Cardenas was the reason for his new club-stacking rules.

The Democratic chair did say another problem with club stacking is that if a club peaks out with, say 100 members during endorsement season, and then falls down to 20 in subsequent meetings, those clubs may not have operating quorums and may not be able to have meetings.

“As the party expands its voter base, these endorsements carry more and more weight,” says San Diegan Jess Durfee who is about to participate as a voting delegate, via Zoom, in his fourth Democratic national convention. He’s been a member of the Democrat National Committee since 2008.

Durfee sees the club-stacking phenomenon as a natural part of the local Democrats’ “growing pains,” as the party grows in power. Durfee says it’s up to Oceanside locals who are unhappy with club stacking in their local Democratic club to fix the problem themselves. “If I were an Oceanside Dem and serious about running, I would recruit 50 of my closest friends to join and outnumber those who just showed up from out of town.”

The Oceanside Democratic Club is not officially recognized or “chartered” by the San Diego County Democratic Central Committee. Rodriguez-Kennedy says the Oceanside club may be granted that status at its July 21 meeting.

"I've been hearing a lot of stuff," says Rob Howard. "My focus is bringing Oceanside together. I joined [Oceanside Democratic Club] because I wanted to be a part of a club in Oceanside. I want to speak with anyone who wants to talk to us."

Democrats running for Oceanside mayor were thought to be helped by the July 4 announcement that councilmember Christopher Rodriguez was jumping into the race for mayor, shearing Republican votes away from Councilmember Jack Feller and former USMC Col. Rocky Chavez. The next day the San Diego Union-Tribune ignored the announcement and instead ran a lengthy piece on how Rodriguez failed to pay back hard money loans.

Oceanside candidates have until August 7 to turn in their paperwork for the November 3 election.

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"I've been hearing a lot of stuff," says Rob Howard.
"I've been hearing a lot of stuff," says Rob Howard.

Latest figures show that only three of San Diego County’s 18 cities (Poway, Santee, Coronado) are majority Republican.

In five cities, Republicans are the third-largest voting group surpassed in numbers by those who claim “No Party Preference.”

Since February of 2019 the total voter registration for all voters in the county grew by 60,000. Yet due to migration from the Republican and No Party Preference columns, the Democrat voter tally countywide actually increased by 90,000.

Esther Sanchez is thought to be the Democratic front-runner for Oceanside mayor.

As the ranks of Democrats grow in San Diego County, competition for the endorsements from Democrat sub-groups is getting ugly. There are nearly 50 Democratic groups in the county which are identified by geographical area (Democratic Club of Vista, Chula Vista Democratic Club) or by cause (Democrats for Peace in the Mideast, Latina Women’s Democratic Club).

Oceanside mayoral hopeful Ruben Major was not happy with the dysfunction he claims plagues DEMCCO, the long-time Carlsbad-based Democratic club that serves Oceanside and Carlsbad. He took dibs on the name Democratic Club of Oceanside, and launched a Facebook page asking for new members. Founding members included other Oceanside city council candidates who were also looking for endorsements that eluded them at DEMCCO.

Two months ago the Oceanside Democratic Club elected its officers. Major stepped back from its steering committee but remains a member.

“I might not get endorsed by the club I founded,” says Major. What he didn’t anticipate was something known as “club stacking,” where outsiders are brought in to join, just to sway endorsements. The only requirements for membership in the Oceanside Democratic Club is that you pay $25 and be a registered Democrat. You don’t have to live in Oceanside to be a member of the Oceanside Democratic Club.

Ruben Major: “I might not get endorsed by the club I founded.”

Noticing that a lot of non-locals he had never heard of had joined, Major asked that only Oceanside residents be allowed to vote to endorse Oceanside candidates. “It didn’t go well,” he said. Major says, for instance, there are people in the new club who have never engaged in Oceanside issues, but who are known to have pro-union leanings. “As I understand it, they go around the county, joining other clubs, and vote to endorse the candidate connected with their special interest.”

Zack Beck was elected as the first president of the Oceanside Democratic Club. He says the whole point of the new club is to address the Oceanside issues that were missed by DEMCCO which has traditionally held its monthly meetings in Carlsbad. “Many Oceanside Democrats wanted to have their own club based in Oceanside that’s focused primarily on Oceanside political affairs.” But Beck did not disclose how many of the 70 members don’t live in Oceanside.

Beck says any Oceanside Democratic Club member can vote on endorsements at this Sunday’s teleconferenced meeting as long as they have been a member since June 30.

Will Rodriguez-Kennedy is the chair of the San Diego County Democratic Party. He admits that club stacking is a very real problem that has plagued local Dem clubs and their endorsement process.

He says there are rules that prevent a club from banning members based on where they live. But Rodriguez-Kennedy says he is about to introduce new rules that he hopes will be adopted by the central committee that will clean up the club stacking mess.

“This has been a problem in the past,” says Rodriguez-Kennedy. “I’m the first chair to even look at this. My intent is to rein in [campaign] consultants. We can’t control how consultants interact with politicians, but what we can do, is if we identify consultants who are identified with club stacking, we can tell politicians that if they do business with them, they will not be doing business with us.”

Chula Vista-based Jesus Cardenas and his Grass Roots Resources was fingered last year for its involvement in getting a number of new Democratic clubs to spring up in the South Bay to impact the endorsement process. Some Oceanside insiders claim the new Oceanside Democratic Club has been stacked with out-of-town members who will vote to endorse political newcomer Rob Howard for mayor. Howard's candidacy may drain Democratic votes away from North River Farms outspoken opponent Esther Sanchez. Councilwoman Sanchez is thought by many to be the Democratic front-runner for Oceanside mayor.

Rodriguez-Kennedy would not comment if Cardenas was the reason for his new club-stacking rules.

The Democratic chair did say another problem with club stacking is that if a club peaks out with, say 100 members during endorsement season, and then falls down to 20 in subsequent meetings, those clubs may not have operating quorums and may not be able to have meetings.

“As the party expands its voter base, these endorsements carry more and more weight,” says San Diegan Jess Durfee who is about to participate as a voting delegate, via Zoom, in his fourth Democratic national convention. He’s been a member of the Democrat National Committee since 2008.

Durfee sees the club-stacking phenomenon as a natural part of the local Democrats’ “growing pains,” as the party grows in power. Durfee says it’s up to Oceanside locals who are unhappy with club stacking in their local Democratic club to fix the problem themselves. “If I were an Oceanside Dem and serious about running, I would recruit 50 of my closest friends to join and outnumber those who just showed up from out of town.”

The Oceanside Democratic Club is not officially recognized or “chartered” by the San Diego County Democratic Central Committee. Rodriguez-Kennedy says the Oceanside club may be granted that status at its July 21 meeting.

"I've been hearing a lot of stuff," says Rob Howard. "My focus is bringing Oceanside together. I joined [Oceanside Democratic Club] because I wanted to be a part of a club in Oceanside. I want to speak with anyone who wants to talk to us."

Democrats running for Oceanside mayor were thought to be helped by the July 4 announcement that councilmember Christopher Rodriguez was jumping into the race for mayor, shearing Republican votes away from Councilmember Jack Feller and former USMC Col. Rocky Chavez. The next day the San Diego Union-Tribune ignored the announcement and instead ran a lengthy piece on how Rodriguez failed to pay back hard money loans.

Oceanside candidates have until August 7 to turn in their paperwork for the November 3 election.

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Comments
2

it's not just oceanside, most politicians = corruption, thievery. puppets bought and paid for.

July 8, 2020

Sounds like the "Club" spats we had in High School between the school sanctioned clubs and the grass roots clubs.

July 15, 2020

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