This weekend, the California Democratic State Convention will happen in Los Angeles. There will be speeches, backroom deals, drinks, and elections for intra-party leadership positions. I ain't no Dem, so I don't know which local candidates are running for what position except one: Orange County Labor Federation head and lifelong OC resident Julio Perez wants to be vice-chair of the California Dems' Labor Caucus.
Makes sense, right? A lifelong labor guy (as I wrote late last year in a profile), a young guy, a Latino, and a bonafide progressive, Perez is the ideal person Democrats should want in their party's leadership if they want to remain relevant in California's multicultural future (or face permanent pariah status like the GOP). Yet Perez's candidacy is being blasted by a seemingly unlikely source: Democratic Party of Orange County chair Henry Vandermeir. But upon further review, it makes sense Vandermeir is so adamantly opposed: Perez represents a bright, promising future for the Democrats, while Vandermeir represents OC Dems' pathetic reality.
On March 3, Vandermeir sent an email to San Francisco Labor Council executive director Tim Paulson referencing my Perez profile and stating, "I want to make sure you know about the recent interview in which Mr. Perez is quoted as saying: 'I don't give a shit about elections. I don't give a shit about how many Democrats we get into office.'
"Personally, I find those statements not only offensive but also mind-boggling considering he served as political director at the OC Labor Fed for years and had only left that position a couple of weeks before the article came out," Vandermeir continued. "As Chair of the Democratic Party of Orange County, the quote pissed me off – especially since I'm finding it harder each year to convince local Democratic officials (many of whom have gotten elected without the support of Labor and in fact, have had the OC Labor Fed run Republican candidates against them) to continue to support our local unions when the time comes.
"I cannot see the wisdom of having a vice-chair on our Labor Caucus who doesn't 'give a shit' about elections or electing Democrats," Vandermeir concluded. "I see no logic behind electing someone to a Democratic leadership position who doesn't fully support the Democratic Party's commitment to electing Democrats at all levels."
That last comment is particularly hilarious, because Vandemeir is blasting Perez for doing the very thing his party has perfected. OC Democrats don't just play footsie with local Republicans; they go full-on 2 Girls, 1 Cup. This is the party whose most prior boss, Vandemeir mentor Frank Barbaro, made it a point of eating dinner with Republican Party of OC head (and supreme slimeball) Scott Baugh every Election Night, the party who decided not to run anyone against OC Supervisor Janet Nguyen just 'cause she was so cool. Vandemeir's the type of guy whose designated "future" of the Democratic Party, Anaheim councilmember Jordan Brandman, has an open bromance with Dark Lord Curt Pringle and is going around town vetting prospective Anaheim council and school board candidates with fellow councilmember/pendejo Kris Murray. OC Dems are the type of party whose officials are already endorsing OC DA Tony Rackaukas, and who haven't bothered to develop any serious challenger to Tony Rack in more than a decade–or any serious candidates for anything ever, instead contenting itself with throwing sacrificial lambs across OC and retreads in the Latino-heavy central OC districts it wins by default.
And because Perez doesn't like this reality, Vandermeir is mad? Plank in eye, smote–all that biblical shit, son!
Instead, Vandermeir's party elects people like State Senator Lou Correa and State Assemblymember Jose Solorio, who smack down labor at every opportunity and led Perez's previous boss, now AFL-CIO executive VP Tefere Gebre, to declare in 2012 that he was "done recycling [the] corporate whores" that the OC Dems gave voters. Perez is merely continuing that tradition–heaven forbid a progressive not try to swallow the milquetoast load morons like Vandemeir try to shove down OC's throats!
But Vandemeir wasn't done trashing Perez. In an email that he sent to Perez and a slew of other folks (after Perez had reached out privately to him), Vandemeir continued with a rant that ended with "If you can unequivocally say 'Yes' that you will support all of our endorsed Democratic candidates, in writing, then I will add my support for you as I have done in the past."
"In writing"? Spoken like a true, insecure braggart who knows someone has called their bluff.
Perez, for his part, doubled down. "At the age of 18 when I first registered to vote, I registered as a Democrat because I felt that the party represented my values," Perez posted on his Facebook page. "Today, I feel that I am a Democrat because I want to uphold the values of the working class in our party. Our Party is being taken over by major corporations and is moving away from the common person. Our party should be the umbrella of those that want to make this a better place for working class people, people of color, members of the LGBTQ community and every other communities that have been historically marginalized."
A true progressive not afraid to blast the cancer within his party, or an apologist. California Democrats: The choice is yours.