Local Dems Fight for Party Endorsement

Former Assemblywoman Lori Saldana and Port of San Diego Chairman Scott Peters want Brian Bilbray’s seat

Delegates from California's Democratic party are huddling this weekend in San Diego to come up with a game plan.

The convention, titled “Battleground California,” sheds light on the struggle Democrats face in winning over newly opened congressional seats.

Two local Democrats are hoping to win the battle and the war -- former Assemblywoman Lori Saldana and Port of San Diego Chairman Scott Peters.

They are running against incumbent Republican Brian Bilbray for the newly re-drawn 52nd district. That election will be held in June 2012.

Many of those congressional spots opened up or shifted with last year’s redistricting.

On Saturday, the party will hold caucuses to endorse Democratic candidates for Congress. Since new election rules don’t include a primary, the endorsement is one way of avoiding splitting up democratic votes.

At a press conference Friday, Minority speaker Nancy Pelosi laid out the main requirements for an endorsement.

“Simply put, we’ll make our decision based on…the support for one in five children in America living in poverty, women’s reproductive freedom, and the assault on workers’ rights throughout the country,” Pelosi said.

“That’s the most important judgment we’ll make,” Pelosi said, referring to the wellbeing of “working families.”

Both Peters and Saldana have already gained endorsement from several organizations throughout San Diego.

However, a nod from California’s entire Democratic Party would be a major advantage.

Most recently, The California Teachers Association and the San Diego/Imperial Counties Labor Council endorsed Peters. Saldana was endorsed by all Democratic clubs in the district she is running for. Both emphasize their focus on growing the economy and helping the poor and middle classes – just what Pelosi said the Democrats want to see.

The major distinction between the candidates is their position on the party’s political spectrum. Saldana is considered closer to a grassroots candidate, while Peters is relatively more moderate.

The delegates will decide whether to endorse one of the Democrats if they can agree with a significant majority.

The GOP holds a slight registration edge with 35.4 percent of registered voters. However, 27 percent of the voters don't belong to either party.

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