January 17, 2019

California votes: The scene in Los Angeles

Heading into five primaries and one caucus June 7, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had 1,862 pledged delegates and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders had 1,521 pledged delegates, with a minimum of 2,433 total needed to secure the Democratic Party’s nomination. On June 6, The Associated Press reported Clinton had reached the needed 2,433 because 571 of the Democrats’ 714 superdelegates (party officials who have a vote at the convention) said they would vote for Clinton. Only 48 had publicly backed Sanders as of June 7.

As the Journal went to press the evening of June 6, California had not been called, and The Associated Press had called New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota for Clinton, and North Dakota for Sanders. Clinton spoke at her Brooklyn, N.Y., headquarters, declaring herself as the party’s nominee, adding further pressure on Sanders to concede.

California’s primary was not only significant because of its sheer number of delegates (546), but because Sanders’ performance here would play a large part in determining whether he would suspend his campaign or stay in the race until the Democratic National Convention in late July in Philadelphia — a prospect that the party’s leadership has been concerned would hurt the Democrats’ unity heading into a November matchup with presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

The following are some scenes from the day of the California primary in Los Angeles.

The Clinton Scene in L.A.

An office space in Westchester, near LAX, served as one of five of the Clinton campaign’s Southern California field offices. And on the evening June 7, while Clinton spoke in Brooklyn, more than 20 volunteers had gathered in this office adorned with Clinton posters, huddled around a television, with snacks on a nearby counter, watching the primary results come in. Early in the evening, they cheered as MSNBC announced the initial results.

“I’ve been waiting for this day for three years. I knew she would run and said to myself that when Hillary runs, I will do everything I can to ensure she gets the presidential nomination, and she is leading in California, and I am a happy camper,” said Cathi McWhorter, a FedEx account manager who works in West L.A.

Posters on the wall read, “She’s With Us!” “Fighting for Us!” and “I’m With Her.” 

Cara Robin, a pledged Clinton delegate who will attend the convention in Philadelphia and who is president of the West L.A. Democratic Club, said she likes Clinton’s prospects against Trump. 

“I don’t know if they can rein him in,” she said of Trump, “but I think Hillary has a terrific chance.”

— Ryan Torok, Staff Writer

A Westside Gathering of Iranian Jews

Guests at 30 Years After election party watch returns come in at Q’s Billiard Club in Brentwood on June 7. Photo by Eitan Arom

Upstairs at Q’s Billiards Club in Brentwood, 30 Years After, an Iranian-Jewish civic organization, celebrated Election Day with celebratory cocktails. Polls had yet to close as guests gathered, but they voted with their cocktails, choosing among discounted drinks: the Hillary, Feel the Bern and the Trump (the Trump was just a bottle of Budweiser).

Though several partygoers described the night’s results as anticlimactic, that fact didn’t dampen the mood of the evening. 

30 Years After encourages Jewish Iranians in the United States to exercise civic rights not available to those still living in Iran, such as the right to vote for candidates not hand selected by a supreme leader.

“That’s why we started the organization — because we have that privilege now,” said Jasmin Niku, a board member for 30 Years After, while waiting for the bartender to serve the Hillary she’d ordered — a concoction of Grey Goose vodka and grenadine.

The organization throws an election party for each presidential primary and general election. Attorney Sam Yebri, the group’s president, said nail-biters like Barack Obama’s 2012 general election win tend to draw greater crowds.

— Eitan Arom, Staff Writer

Holding out Hope for Sanders

Jeremy White, production designer for Team Bernie LA. Photo by Lakshna Mehta

Between the “fascist, the war criminal and the hippie,” a man dressed like Jesus who called himself Amigo, said he would vote for the hippie. Holding a large sign with Bernie Sanders’ face on it and hoping to inspire people to vote for Sanders, he stood outside a makeshift Bernie’s Coffee Shop Restaurant — a pop-up gathering place and souvenir shop for the Bernie Sanders campaign at the corner Fairfax Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles. 

Others held signs with slogans like “Honk for Bernie.” 

“You can just feel the love here,” said Michelle Manos, a founder of Team Bernie LA, which runs the shop. 

“I believe in Bernie because he believes in me,” said Jeremy White, production designer for Team Bernie LA. “But I’m worried he won’t get as many votes as he should. When your vote is literally not counted, it’s not a democracy.”

As would be expected, the feeling in the coffee shop was very pro-Sanders. It was also very anti-Hillary Clinton and anti-Donald Trump. 

“If Trump becomes the president, I’m going to become a freedom fighter,” Ed Higgins said. “If we [Bernie Sanders] lose this election, it will be because of disenfranchisement. It won’t be Bernie’s fault.”

As polls were closing, Manos and other volunteers started closing shop to head to the rally scheduled for Sanders in Santa Monica. But even that was slow going as people walked in and out of the coffee shop either to show support for Sanders or simply out of curiosity. 

— Lakshna Mehta, Contributing Writer

Nervous, Yet Firm Support Highlights Sanders’ Rally

]Crowd gathers outside Barker Hangar in Santa Monica waiting for Bernie Sanders to speak after the California primary. Photo by Jackson Prince

On the evening of June 7, hundreds of Bernie Sanders supporters lined up for a rally at Barker Hangar in Santa Monica after California polls closed at 8 p.m. Despite a victory speech by Hillary Clinton in which she claimed the Democratic nomination, Sanders supporters were doing their best to stay in high spirits while they waited for him to speak. 

“We’re firm in our support,” Nick Cullen, a Mar Vista resident, said. “It’s definitely much more subdued tonight than the other rallies I’ve been to, but Bernie is our candidate, and remains so.”

Nick Brown, a Highland Park resident, said he wanted to hear a message of coalition-building. “Tonight is important in setting up a fight and a cause that we hope to grow and strengthen over the coming months,” Brown said. “We’re definitely nervous about the results.”


 — Jackson Prince, Contributing Writer