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California Democratic Party Overview

DSCC Organization and Role

The governing body of the California Democratic Party (CDP) is the Democratic State Central Committee (DSCC). The DSCC may make endorsements in partisan primary elections and may take positions on statewide ballot measures. The DSCC is made up of approximately 2,900 members (also called “delegates”) coming from the groups below in roughly one-third proportions. 

Local Parties (County Democratic Central Committees)

Each county Democratic Central Committee (DCC) elects DSCC members from its membership. The number of spaces available to our Central Committee members is based on the number of registered Democrats in the County. Our County Party is allocated spots according to our county Democratic registration (1 spot / 10,000 registered Democrats).  

Our process for selecting our DSCC reps from the Central Committee involves appointing those who volunteer to serve by their membership class. According to the SDCDP Bylaws, the delegation will be filled from the membership in this order Public Ballot, other Voting Members, Alternate, and Associate members. We select our delegation every two years no later than January after the Presidential or Gubernatorial election. Out of our delegation, we also select delegates to serve on the CDP Executive Board (1 spot / 100,000 registered Democrats).

Assembly District Election Meetings (ADEMs)

Fourteen AD delegates are elected in caucuses that are held in each of the California Assembly Districts in January of each odd-numbered year. Any Democrat can run to become an AD delegate, and any Democrat who lives in that Assembly District can vote in the caucus. You can file to run for delegate in an ADEM by filling out a form on the CDP website; the deadline for filing is 30 days prior to the ADEM meeting.

If you run as an AD delegate, you will want to encourage as many registered Democrats in your AD as you can reach to come on ADEM election day and vote for you. You can also consider joining a slate of ADEM candidates.

Each ADEM will also select a member to serve on the CDP Executive Board. Whoever is selected will also become an SDCDP Designated member. 

Elected Officials, Nominees and Appointments

All Democratic elected officials and nominees are DSCC members and additionally are allowed to appoint 2–6 DSCC members each. These include members of Congress, statewide officials, and state legislators.

Annual Statewide Convention

At the State Convention in odd-numbered years after presidential elections, the members of the DSCC elect the officers of the CDP, who serve four-year terms: chair, two vice chairs, secretary and controller.

In addition, there are 20 Regional Directors who function as liaisons between the CDP and the county DCCs and the Democratic clubs in their region (each region comprises 3–5 Assembly Districts). Regional Directors serve two-year terms and are elected at the State Convention in odd-numbered years.

The entire DSCC also votes on other issues that are brought before them at state conventions:

  • To determine the CDP’s endorsements for partisan legislative and statewide offices

  • To take positions on ballot propositions as needed

  • To establish the official CDP Platform

  • Resolutions (in odd-numbered years only)

Executive Board and Executive Board Meetings

Although the entire DSCC meets only once a year at the State Convention, the Executive Board of the DSCC (the E-Board) meets two additional times each year to conduct business that arises between conventions, including standing committee and caucus meetings. In even-numbered presidential election years, the members of the E-Board elect the members to represent California at the Democratic National Committee in Washington, D.C. There are approximately 330 E-Board members, consisting of the following:

  • Members of Congress (2)

  • Statewide Officials

  • State Legislators (2 per house)

  • Standing Committee Chairs

  • Caucus Chairs

  • Democratic National Committee Members (19)

  • County Democratic Central Committee Representatives (one per county plus one additional member for each 100,000 registered Democrats within the county)

  • ADEM Representatives (one per Assembly District)

  • California Democratic Council President

  • California Young Democrats President

Standing Committees

The Chair appoints the members of the nine standing committees of the CDP: Affirmative Action, Credentials, Finance, Legislation, Organizational Development, Platform, Resolutions, Rules, and Voter Services. You can find out more about the purpose and duties of each standing committee in the CDP by-laws (Article V, Sections 1–7) at cadem.org/our-party/by-laws . Appointments are exclusive to CDP delegates. DSCC members may apply online.

When appointing standing committee chairs, co-chairs and members, the Chair considers the CDP’s commitment to nondiscrimination, affirmative action, inclusiveness and diversity including, but not limited to, race, color, creed, national origin, sex, age, religion, ethnic identity, sexual orientation and persons with disabilities. Geographical locations of the appointees of these committees will include applicant’s residence in urban, suburban and rural communities.

Standing committees meet during the annual Convention and Executive Board Meetings.

Caucuses

Caucuses comprise Democrats who share similar demographics and/or interests. Caucuses may have dues and many caucuses allow non-DSCC members to join. A full list of caucuses and contact information is at cadem.org/our-party/caucuses.

African-American

Arab-American

Asian/Pacific Islander

Business & Professional

Chicano/Latino

Children’s

Computer & Internet

Disabilities

Environmental

Filipino-American

Irish-American

Labor

LGBT

Native American

Progressive

Rural

Senior

Veterans

Women’s

 

Other Organizations

The following organizations have varying relationships with the California Democratic Party.

California Democratic Council

The California Democratic Council (CDC) ensures that every California Democrat is served by a visible, organized, broadly-based geographic Democratic club that reaches out year-round to its community; recruits quality Democratic candidates for every appointed and elected position in its purview; and supports those officials in advocating for Democratic Party values both as candidates and in their sworn public roles. The CDC helps Democratic clubs to communicate their policy messages and positions on issues in a democratic manner and at the appropriate level to provide information and guidance to appointed and elected officials and candidates.

Federation of County Democratic Central Committees

The Federation provides a forum for Democratic County Central Committees in California to share ideas for developing their organization to support and promote the ideals of the CDP and to obtain maximum support from the CDP. The federation also provides a network and advocacy for Democratic County Central Committees to promote Democratic party activities and programs throughout the state.

Statewide Chartered Organizations

The CDP is moving away from adding caucuses and shifting to chartering statewide organizations. The first such organization to be chartered was the California Armenian American Democrats.

 

Expenses

Delegates, Executive Board members, Committee members, and caucus and organization members are responsible for dues, registration fees, lodging, and travel expenses.  See this summary from the CDP in 2014.