Jeff LeTourneau's Grassroots Revival

The legendary LGBT activist hopes to become chairman of the Democratic Party of Orange County

Barbaro, on the other hand, always made it a point to have dinner with GOP chairman Scott Baugh on election night.

Outside of party politics, whoever ends up replacing Barbaro has a formidable challenge in front of them. Besides the state senate, assembly and congressional districts that roughly cover Santa Ana, Anaheim, Fullerton and Garden Grove, as well as Santa Ana's city council and school board, the Democrats have failed miserably at recruiting viable candidates, as Republicans continue to hold the vast majority of elected positions in Orange County. Part of the problem, LeTourneau feels, is a lack of outreach by the Democratic Party outside its traditional constituencies. "Those groups that have stood on the outside, it's time to let them in and tell them, 'This isn't something that ignores you, but something that needs your voice,'" he says. As chairman, LeTourneau says, he'll push for standing committees "that have gender and racial equity. You're putting a face on the party that's reflective of the county as a whole, and now more people will be inspired to vote and run for office. It's not rocket science—it really isn't. It's just basic community organizing."

Democratic Party delegates for each assembly district will convene Jan. 28 at the Carpenter's Union Local 2361 Hall in Orange to vote for either Vandermeir or LeTourneau, and LeTourneau feels confident he'll claim victory. He'll spend the coming weeks meeting activists and bigwigs alike.

"We [the Democratic Party of Orange County leadership] can be a tool of reform that has never been seen before," LeTourneau concludes. "And now is the time."

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