Northern California Elections Report

BY:Juan Lopez| September 26, 2001

Report given to the National Committee

Very good reports by Jarvis and other comrades. Evey also presented a very
good picture and assessment of the election results in California. California
was a big bust for Bush and the Republicans.

Joining with Los Angeles and other Southern California areas, the greater
Bay Area counties, where the population is concentrated in Northern California
and the labor movement is strongest, helped give Gore a big win in the
state. With the exception of one county with 50 percent, Gore took the
greater Bay Area by margins of 60 to 76 percent depending on the county,
helping offset more conservative areas of the state.

In addition, Democrat union member Mike Honda took back the seat from
the Republicans in a spectacular victory in the 15th congressional district,
in the San Jose-Silicon Valley area. He joined 3 other Southern California
Democrats who captured seats from Republicans, altogether hugely contributing
to Republican losses in the House.

Northern California also added one additional Democrat to the state
senate and took two of three additional assembly seats from the Republicans,
strengthening the already comfortable majority the Democrats hold in both
houses of the state legislature under relatively progressive leadership.

Time won’t permit me to elaborate. But, even with all these victories
in California, there is both the need and the potential to broaden, extend
and deepen this winning electoral coalition in the post-election period
— beginning with the fight to keep Bush and the rightwing from stealing
the elections.

We are already part of this new fight. Generally our Party’s membership
and clubs were more active and united in these elections than I can recall.
Among other things, it reflects a deeper involvement in coalition work
in the past year. The PWW banquet — which has become a truly mass,
popular event honoring some of the area’s main labor and community leaders
and their movements — played an important role in helping clarify what
was at stake in these elections, and in taking on the problems of how
Nader was conducting his presidential campaign.

All along our emphasis in the elections was on the main mass movements,
starting with organized labor which had set an excellent tone at the state
labor federation convention earlier in the year — militantly anti-rightwing
while already showing important signs of political independence. Labor
organized and mobilized like I’ve never seen, in some areas working more
closely with its allies, especially among African Americans and Mexican
Americans. Along with women voters, labor and African Americans and Latinos
were the core of the electoral coalition that dealt Bush and the Republicans
a devastating defeat in California.

One of those places was the 15th congressional seat in the San Jose-Silicon
Valley area. The Republican candidate tried to tailor his campaign to
the area. Without veering from the Republican agenda on basic economic
issues, he emphasized his ‘independence’ from the Republican Party leadership,
favored a woman’s right to choose and bragged about his environmental

But the Democrat with a strong working families record in the state
assembly beat him 55 to 42 percent. Democrat Mike Honda embodies California’s
rich multi-cultural, working class experience. He is a union member of
union member of the American Federation of Teachers, a former teacher
and principal, who comes from a farmworker family of Japanese ancestry
and who as a child spent time in an infamous American concentration camp
during WW II.

The labor council here, whose leader was honored by our paper two years
ago, has been on the forefront of organizing in the Silicon Valley and
of the main coalitions for economic and social justice. Over recent years,
the council began to elect union members to local office. Increasingly,
it has the majority of area politicians marching to its tune, instead
of the other way around. Targetting key precincts out of council headquarters,
the council headed up the coordination of this nationally targeted congressional
race with the presidential race, and with two key assembly races where
the Democrat won seats long held by Republicans. It led a united campaign
that pulled volunteer resources together, including a small army of union
members and the volunteers of other candidates. When we went out canvassing
or did phone banking, we were reaching not only union families, as most
other councils were doing, but also all Democrats and independents in
the priority precincts.

Alongside this effort, the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement
(LCLAA) in close coordination with the central labor council headed up
the Latino Voter Project operating out of the heart of the Mexican American/Latino
community in San Jose, reaching out also beyond union families, to all
registered Democrats and independents.

Well, as you can see, this resulted in stupendous victories. It also
increases labor’s clout in the area and lays the basis for broadening
even further the coalition work of the labor movement and its allies in
the future. We played a modest role in the campaign but one that helped
establish the paper and the Party in a new way.

I want to cite one example. On the Saturday before the elections, our
paper ran a very good article on the congressional races, highlighting
Mike Honda among others, with a big picture of him. I asked if it was
OK for me to pass the paper out, outside by the front door as the volunteers
came streaming back for lunch. I was told, no!…Better yet: put copies
on the tables where the workers would be having lunch and pass them out
inside the campaign headquarters to those hanging around.

I will speak only of one of the many local races where we played important
roles to help stave off right-wing and right of center attacks on more
progressive candidates, helping consolidate further left center forces.
One of four members of a progressive slate for the rent board in Berkeley
had to step down on the eve of a big city wide people’s convention where
candidates where going to be confirmed. One of our comrades, who is widely
known as a Communist and well respected in her coalition work, was drafted
spontaneously at the people’s convention. Funny thing is that when we
approached her about running for public office earlier this year, she
rejected the idea on the basis she already had too much on her plate,
which was generally a main response given by other comrades we had also

This and other experiences we’ve been having argue for (at least) a
couple of things: First — we have to take initiative throughout the Party
to run for public office. Increasingly there are left center forces out
there ready for us, but often we’re not ready for ourselves. Secondly
— I think this argues that the more deeply we and our clubs are rooted
in coalition struggles, the more we build a mass base constituency for
Communist candidates. As you’ve already heard, the progressive slate —
including our comrade — on election day won by a good margin.



    Juan Lopez is chairman of the Communist Party in northern California and statewide coordinator. He has been a labor and community activist during the nearly forty years he's lived in Oakland, where he and his wife raised three children. He was formerly a member of the Teamsters union and a shop steward.

Related Articles

For democracy. For equality. For socialism. For a sustainable future and a world that puts people before profits. Join the Communist Party USA today.

Join Now

We are a political party of the working class, for the working class, with no corporate sponsors or billionaire backers. Join the generations of workers whose generosity and solidarity sustains the fight for justice.

Donate Now

CPUSA Mailbag

If you have any questions related to CPUSA, you can ask our experts
  • QHow does the CPUSA feel about the current American foreign...
  • AThanks for a great question, Conlan.  CPUSA stands for peace and international solidarity, and has a long history of involvement...
Read More
Ask a question
See all Answer