Heading into a crucial 2024 election, California Democrats were divided over Israel and Senate candidates

(Lezlie Sterling/AP)

Heading into a crucial 2024 election, California Democrats were divided over Israel and Senate candidates

California Politics, Homepage News, Israel-Hamas, Elections 2024

Benjamin Oresces

November 19, 2023

The California

The Democratic Party Convention offered delegates and activists a chance to project unity heading into a high-stakes election year.

The weekend-long meeting turned out to be anything but that.

Democrats remained divided on the most crucial issues facing the party and the nation: the raging war between Israel and Hamas and a conflict in California in 2024.


race with three popular party members, congressional veterans, hoping to win the seat that the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein held for more than three decades.

The internal rifts reflected a national debate within the party that some believe could jeopardize President Biden’s reelection hopes and the balance of power in Congress.

Israel’s deadly invasion of Gaza in the aftermath of

a terror Hamas’ October. 7


last month

dominated the convention. Protesters angry about the war disrupted a Senate candidates forum Saturday afternoon and later in the evening stormed the Sacramento convention center, just blocks from the Capitol, leading to the cancellation of official party events that evening.

“An injustice for one is an injustice for all,” said Rep. and attorney Magali Kincaid, who joined protesters.


disrupted the Senate’s comments


candidates Rep. Katie Porter and Adam


Ship with Lexi Reese.

Kincaid, who is supporting Rep. Barbara Lee


for the Senate, joined a rally attended by protesters on Saturday afternoon

loudly shouted “ceasefire,” briefly disrupting the Senate candidates. She said she wanted to see “peace, not war” in Gaza and that any solution to what is happening with the hostages in Gaza should not involve more violence.

“We need to make sure that we stand up against genocide and colonization and that’s what I think we did,” Kincaid said.

The clash between delegates and demonstrators over death and destruction in Israel and Gaza

has angered young voters in particular. Ameera Abouromeleh, an 18-year-old Palestinian American who joined the protest with six members of her family, including her 74-year-old grandfather, who she said was born in Jerusalem, said she looks forward to voting for the first time next year to vote. way to show solidarity with family remaining in the West Bank.

Even if you crush someone under the rubble, our voices will continue to be heard,” Abouromeleh said.

Her grandfather Naff was less fond of civil disobedience, and was mainly content with supporting his grandchildren. He believed that the violence of both Israelis and Palestinians had gone too far and wanted a lasting solution to the conflict.

Abouromeleh was an uncertain who


to support in the Senate race, but in the presidential election she plans to vote for Cornel West, a progressive academic who is running as an independent candidate for


president. A recently released NBC News poll found that 70% of voters between the ages of 18 and 34 disapproved of Biden’s handling of the war between Israel and Hamas. It came as his popularity fell to 40%, the lowest level of his presidency.

The weekend’s events angered many Jewish delegates. Some said they felt harassed and unsafe at the conference. They criticized Democratic Party leaders for not doing enough to protect members and prevent disruptions. Andrew Lachman, chairman of the California Democrats for Israel and a Jewish delegate, said he had heard from more than a dozen people who were either reluctant to come to the convention or did not come because they were concerned about

anti-Semitic anti-Semitic


Lachman said they were right to be concerned given the events.

“Many were shocked by the disruptive and violent acts they witnessed,” Lachman said.

The divisions within the party could jeopardize the party’s success in the 2024 elections, Lachman said.

Democrats will need the support of battleground Jewish and Muslim voters

states and congressional districts

if they want to keep the White House and make legislative gains.

“We can’t win Michigan or Virginia without Muslim votes. You can’t win Nevada or Pennsylvania without the Jewish community,” Lachman said. “So anyone who thinks he or she can scream


the other one from the room is hurting the Democratic Party.”

On Sunday, Rusty Hicks, chairman of the California Democratic Party, condemned the protesters’ behavior and said that “any delegate who actively participated in or helped promote these activities and events … will be held accountable.”

Saturday “ended with a series of events that left me both deeply saddened and disappointed,” he added.

The most anticipated vote among party delegates this weekend was for California’s 2024 Senate race, pitting Lee against fellow Democratic representatives.


Ship from Burbank and


Irvine doorman. In 2018, California’s Democratic Party sent a clear message when its members voted for then-state lawmaker Kevin de Len over Feinstein. This time, however, no candidate reached the 60% threshold needed to receive the award.

Lee won 41.5% of the delegates and Schiff came in a close second with 40.2%. Porter came third with 16%.

Although Lee lagged behind Schiff and Porter in recent polls, her support among Democratic delegates reflected the strong loyalty she inspires among the party’s faithful, who tend to be more liberal than the broader electorate. During Saturday’s forum, her supporters cheered as she reiterated her call for a ceasefire in Israel and Gaza, along with her casting


just no vote on the


permission for the


use of




force that made possible the invasion of Iraq after the September 11 terrorist


to attack.

Basem Manneh, a Palestinian American from the Bay Area who supports Lee and is a delegate, said he was frustrated by the disruptions to the Senate forum. The broader push for a ceasefire

at the convention


pushing the movements

to help Lee

what were

the “right way to approach solidarity,” he said. Speaking at the evening protest inside the building, he found there was little evidence that the disobedience was anything but peaceful and constructive.

“I don’t consider any of this to be a hateful message.”

Manneh, who works at San Francisco International Airport, said both Porter and Schiff were very smart, but Lee has been doing this work much longer.

than anyone else.

“She is the captain of the locker room,” Manneh said.

Brian Krohne, 41, who campaigned for Porter during her congressional races, is backing Lee in part because of Porter’s reluctance to call for a ceasefire in Israel

and Gaza area.

Porter and Schiff do


broadly supports Biden’s efforts to gently support Israel

urges its leaders

to be more aware of the loss of civilian lives and to think about what will happen next in Gaza.

“I think it’s so disappointing that she’s on the wrong side of this,” Krohne said of Porter.

Hicks and other state party officials said the divided party was a reflection of the strength of the candidates and that these divisions would not hurt Democrats’ ability to come together next year.

Riverside County Party Chair Joy Silver, a Jewish resident of Palm Springs, said she never felt unsafe during the protests on Saturday but was angry that they prevented party primaries from meeting, adding that they seemed “deeply undemocratic.”

Divisions within the party were deep, she said, but she would continue her work overseeing voter outreach in one of the most competitive parts of the state, where Democrats are eager to regain a seat in Congress and some seats in the Assembly. don’t stop. The county party had not endorsed the Senate race, but it endorsed Schiff. She compared the rift between Schiff and Lee to the rift the party experienced in 2016 between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders.

“I think the real division here is between the head and the heart,” Silver said.

“Adam has more brains and Barbara Lee has more heart.”


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