- Terelle Jerricks
By Lyn Jensen, Carson Reporter
Note: For more than a decade Julian Burger has been a leading member of the Democratic Party in the South Bay. He has worked as a field director on various partisan and non-partisan campaigns, including Carson Mayor Jim Dear Anti-Recall campaign, the candidacies of Marcy Winograd for Congress, and Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas. Burger has also served as president of the Progressive Democratic Club for many years, and is a longtime active member of the Gardena Valley Democratic Club, San Pedro Democratic Club and Mexican-American Democratic Club. He recently sat down with Random Lengths reporter Lyn Jensen to discuss key Democratic strategies leading up to the Nov. 6 election. Read Random Lengths follow up coverage of the election.
[Correction: A paragraph on page 5 of the Oct. 19 edition of Random Lengths News incorrectly stated the location of the Organizing for America phone banking to re-elect President Barack Obama. The location was at a Democratic call center on University Drive in Carson. Random Lengths News continues to strive to bring accurate and independent journalism covering the Greater Los Angeles and Long Beach Harbor Area.]
State Assembly Speaker John Perez has targeted the campaign for the new Assembly District 66 as the most competitive in the South Bay and a must-win for Democrats, according to local party volunteer Julian Burger.
“The important thing about the race is that the Democrats are shy by two seats of having a two-thirds majority in the Assembly,” Burger explained.
Perez is focusing statewide party resources on three seats he calls “toss-up seats” and the new AD-66 is the only one that’s in Los Angeles County.
Democrat Al Muratsuchi, who works for the state Attorney General and also serves on the Torrance School Board, is running against conservative Republican Craig Huey–who ran a gutter campaign against Janice Hahn in the special election for Congress last year–to represent the district that includes the unincorporated strip known as West Carson, along the 110 freeway.
It also roughly encompasses Lomita, Harbor City, South Gardena, and large sections of Palos Verdes, Torrance and Redondo Beach.
“You have a right wing in the State Assembly that will hold up anything and everything unless it meets exactly what their needs are,” Burger explained about the importance of this race. “If we don’t have the ability to say we don’t want to deal with you … you are always going to have to barter away the needs of society—that’s as far as women are concerned, and minorities, too.”
Burger is President of the Progressive Democratic Club that meets monthly in Carson. During this election he’s working with several other Democratic clubs under an umbrella organization, United Democrats of South Bay, to arrange phone banking at the Democratic call center on University Drive in north Carson.
He notes, “This is a very Democratic area.”
At present Organizing For America, which is working to re-elect Obama, is using the Democratic call center for phone banking five days a week. Burger wants to schedule phone banking for Muratsuchi on two other days every week. He’d also like to make the center available for campaigns for defeating Proposition 32 and passing Prop. 30. He also suggested perhaps Rep. Janice Hahn’s campaign could perhaps use the phone bank center, too.
Burger recalled how phone banking at the same location was important during the 2008 Obama campaign, “You couldn’t get into that place,” he said of the number of Obama volunteers. “They actually had to ask people—I’ve never seen this before in a campaign—to come back later and they gave them specific dates and times, and those people came back. In any other campaign they would have never come back.”
“Enthusiasm for Obama has really dropped,” he acknowledged, when comparing this election to 2008. “People that do support Obama are not as strident as they used to be so it’s a much tougher sell.”
Besides campaigning for Muratsuchi, Burger is putting major emphasis on defeating Proposition 32. “This issue makes it more difficult to fund Democratic campaigns from labor financial sources,” he explained.
Noting how California voters defeated essentially the same issue in 2005, he added, “I think [defeating] Proposition 32 is important basically because these days, realistically speaking, the input of labor is critical to Democratic campaigns, and if you basically neuter that, you are going to hurt the ability of Democrats to get out a message to labor.”
More participation by women, minorities, and labor may make the difference for Democrats in this election, Burger suggested, commenting, “You can pretty much depend on the African-American community to vote Democratic. You’d think the Hispanic community would be stridently Democratic but not necessarily.”
He also said, “I’ve noticed in totality [while there may be fewer Democratic volunteers] there are more women volunteering in labor. I see a lot more women in organized labor participating in these campaigns.”
As to why that may be so, he answered, “I think that basically women feel they need to participate to make sure they retain some of the rights they worked hard to get.”