By Aaron Blevins, 9/06/2012
Local legislators share the stage in Charlotte, N.C.
The 2012 Democratic National Convention kicked off Tuesday in Charlotte, N.C., and Los Angeles is being represented at the national event by a variety of local, state and federal legislators.
While a rainy forecast has moved President Barack Obama’s acceptance speech indoors into the smaller Time Warner Arena — instead of the outdoor Bank of America Stadium — spirits remained high among area Democrats.
U.S. Rep Karen Bass (D-California) is attending her first Democratic National Convention, after the 2008 state budget crisis kept her in California during her time in the Legislature.
“I think [conventions] are very exciting for party members, activists and supporters,” she said. “It’s very energizing.”
Bass referenced reports that the enthusiasm at the convention is lacking in comparison to the atmosphere in 2008. Though she wasn’t able to attend that year, she didn’t notice any kind of “enthusiasm gap.”
“I don’t see it here,” Bass said. “It’s what I imagined 2008 was. People are very excited.”
She said First Lady Michelle Obama’s speech was “unbelievable,” while also referencing the remarks made by San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro and Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick.
“They’re very powerful speakers,” Bass added.
The congresswoman had her own speech to give on Wednesday, when she addressed the full convention audience alongside Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Emmanuel Cleaver and U.S. Rep. Al Green (D-Texas). They discussed the importance of protecting the right to vote for all Americans, despite recent attempts to discriminate against some voters.
“In California, this is really not an issue,” she said in an interview prior to her speech.
Bass also participated in various meetings, and she was the master of ceremonies for a tea hosted by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi that centered on recruiting and supporting women in politics.
“It went well,” she said. “It was very well-attended.”
While the convention is in full-swing, the Democrats are facing a threat that their Republican colleagues faced last week: weather. Although it’s not a hurricane, rain forecasts will move Obama’s speech indoors, which will severely reduce the amount of people who can attend. Bass said Time Warner Arena holds approximately 20,000 people — compared to more than 60,000 at the outdoor stadium.
However, she was still excited to hear former President Bill Clinton speak, as well as the president and California Attorney General Kamala Harris.
“To me, it was very important to come,” Bass said. “It’s been very good.”
Los Angeles City Councilman Eric Garcetti, 13th District, has also been busy. He is on the Democratic National Convention executive board, and is the chairman for the Democratic Municipal Officials. Garcetti is also vice-chairman of the rules committee.
He participated in panel discussion on the economy, technology and communities of color, as well as one hosted by the Hispanic caucus. Lastly, Garcetti hosted a “rising stars” party on Tuesday.
“It’s been a super convention so far,” he said. “There has been nothing but sunshine inside the arena.”
Garcetti said the first lady’s speech was “incredible,” admitting that it had him in tears. And, he said he was not alone.
“I think people were in tears across the arena,” the councilman added.
Like Bass, Garcetti said the enthusiasm is not lacking; in fact, it is at a “whole other level.” He said many speakers, such as Castro, have shared their life stories and explained how that helped propel them to be political leaders.
“That story is a very close story to my own family,” Garcetti said. “I think he spoke wonderfully.”
While Garcetti was scheduled to return to Los Angeles prior to the president’s speech, he said the convention has been especially inspiring. The speakers’ stories have paralleled the struggles that Los Angeles residents face every day, the councilman said.
“As a councilmember in Los Angles, I’ve seen the impact this president has had on Los Angeles,” Garcetti said, referencing the stimulus package and the end of the Iraq War. “This is not about national politics for me; it’s about local politics.”
Congressman Adam Schiff (D-California) has attended the last several Democratic National Conventions. While only spectating this year, he said the event is always inspiring.
“It’s a good opportunity to hear from some of the leadership in the party and get a sense for the issues coming up for the next year,” Schiff said.
He said he believes that Democrats have an opportunity to make a statement at the convention. The Republican convention showed that candidate Mitt Romney is looking to return to former failed policies, Schiff said.
“The Republican convention didn’t produce much of a bounce for their candidate, he said. “I think there’s an extraordinary opportunity for the president.”
Other elected officials from Los Angeles are in North Carolina this week. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is the chair of the convention, but representatives of the mayor’s office did not respond to requests for comment or information.
The staff of City Controller Wendy Greuel, who, like Garcetti, is running for mayor in 2013, issued a statement, saying that she is fulfilling her duty as a delegate by voting for Obama. Greuel was planning to attend a wide range of convention events as well.
Locally, several entities are hosting watch parties tomorrow for the president’s speech. California’s Organizing for America will open three new offices and hold watch parties for the president’s speech.
One will be on the third floor at 1408 Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica. U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-California), Garcetti, Greuel and other elected officials are expected to attend. The ribbon cutting will be at 4:30 p.m., with the viewing party at 6:30 p.m.
Additionally, there will be a convention watch party beginning at 5 p.m. at Shakey’s Pizza, 6052 W. Olympic Blvd.