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Speeches, endorsement battles on tap for Democrats

April 17, 2010 | 10:56 am

As California Democrats gather in downtown Los Angeles, a busy day of politicking lies ahead. Candidates were up meeting conventioneers outside the Los Angeles Convention Center. U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer held a morning press conference. Gavin Newsom was handing out muffins on a street corner as delegates filtered in to the hall.

Saturday promises a day of speeches including a much-anticipated address from gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown. Also on the bill today are Boxer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) and other statewide elected officials.

Candidates who are not incumbents have been barred from addressing the hall, probably because wading through the field of attorney general candidates alone would take hours. But California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton was in game-day form, emceeing the affair and giving introductions like the one he gave to Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles). Burton called Waters "a very soft-spoken, very genteel pain in the [butt]." Only Burton could make it sound like a compliment.

Later Saturday, candidates will battle for the hearts and minds of delegates looking for a formal party endorsement. Among the big fights are expected to be the battle between lieutenant governor candidates Newsom and Janice Hahn, and the fight for the insurance commissioner endorsement. Assembly members Hector De La Torre (D-South Gate) and Dave Jones (D-Sacramento) are the top contenders for the job.

-- Anthony York