Working for Eshoo
In mid 1988, to give her campaign a more aggressive grass roots base, 12th District Congressional Candidate Anna Eshoo recently changed campaign management firms. Following talks with the Democratic Congressional Committee, Eshoo said she realized she could not use the same campaign approach to beat Republican candidate Tom Campbell that she used in her primary race, according to Eshoo's campaign manager Mary Hughes. Eshoo's new management firm — Richie Ross — will now funnel more money to voter contact and field operations. "(The DCCC) want(s) people who will spend money wisely. We want assistance." Ross is replacing Townsend and Co. — a leading California consultant firm whose clients have included Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley and 1984 Presidential candidate Walter Mondale. A Sacramento based firm, Ross recently helped San Francisco Mayor Art Agnos gain his post.
Ross has also worked on two winning initiatives in Santa Clara County, the San Jose Arena and the Santa Clara County Jail. Praising Ross as one of the "best organizers in California," Asst. Director of the Row Keith Archuleta said the firm is "definitely a plus" for Eshoo's campaign. Archuleta, who was once an aid to Agnos, said he knew Richie Ross personally while working in Sacramento. "He is good at fundraising and is a good strategist," Archuleta said. Hughes added that Eshoo's campaign has maintained close contacts with the DCCC, a national organization that assists viable candidates. After closely examining Eshoo's campaign records, the DCCC gave Eshoo their financial support once her campaign met "certain criteria," Hughes said. In fact, the DCCC is targeting the 12th district election as one of the five most important races in the country, according to Hughes.
- 2012: Ross manages the 2014 campaign of Fiona Ma for Board of Equalization.
- 2007-08: Ross managed the following campaigns in the June 3, 2008, primary:Christopher Cabaldon, 8th Assembly District
Carole Migden, 3rd Senate District, Gina Papan, 19th Assembly District, Paul Fong, 22nd Assembly District, Linda Harris Forrester, 52nd Assembly District, Marty Block, 78th Assembly District, Rick Gonzales, 80th Assembly District
- 2008: Worked for and publicly defended State Sen. Carole Migden (D-SD3) during FPPC problems, lawsuits and countersuits.
- 2007: Ross worked for Mike Gipson in his unsuccessful Democratic primary campaign for 55th Assembly District.
Changing Demographics, and Voting in California
Beginning in 1994, California began to change. The numbers of immigrants who became citizens grew exponentially each year. According to the Department of Homeland Security’s statistics, prior to Proposition 187, the number of new citizens in California each year had been a steady 50,000 to 60,000. In 1994, the number jumped to 118,567. In 1995, it was 171,285. In 1996, 378,014.
Also in 1994, a husband and wife team, Miguel Contreras the leader of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor and Maria Elena Durazo, then the leader of the Hotel Workers in Los Angeles (later Miguel’s successor at the Labor Fed) began something new: they linked organizing immigrant workers to organizing immigrant voters. And they hired a young immigrant-rights firebrand, Fabian Nunez, as he protested Proposition 187 by carrying the Mexican flag down Broadway in Los Angeles.
Nunez served as L.A. Labor’s political director and eventually became the Speaker of the Assembly.
The campaigns Durazo, Contreras and consultant Richie Ross, developed broke new ground, organized new union workers, and increased the political impact Latino voters had on California politics – simultaneously tripling their number of registered voters, increasing the Democratic share of that vote by 50%, and doubling the percentage of the total votes cast in California from Latinos.
- Through the rest of the 1990′s our campaigns focused on legislative races in Los Angeles. We succeeded. But it was all small.
In 2000, Maria Elena Durazo pushed for something bigger…
In 2000, the message was controversial. “If you want to make a difference, voting isn’t enough. Don’t bother voting unless you sign our pledge to get 100% of your family to vote.” Latino turnout rose… and accounted for 14% of the votes cast according to the State’s voter registration and voting history records.
In 2005, over dinner with some friends, Durazo heard a successful Latina businesswoman bemoaning the low Latino turn-out for Antonio Villaraigosa in March of 05. The woman told Durazo that it was “Imperdonable” (Unforgivable).
The City’s voting records show that the L.A. Labor Fed’s “Imperdonable” campaign increased Latino turn-out in the Mayoral run-off by 50%.
In May 2010, Durazo called Ross and others together. Her message was clear. Latinos would end up voting for Jerry Brown. That would be easy. The challenge was how to motivate them to vote at all.
- Fortunately, the Republicans in Arizona wrote a new law.
- When we conducted focus groups, people brought the issue up to us. When we polled it, we found 93% of California Latinos knew about it, 84% said it was more about profiling than immigration, and 73% thought it could happen in California. That view became more believable when Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner in the Republican primary tried to outdo one another as anti-immigrant politicians.
- So instead of a campaign where our candidate was a 72-year-old white guy, Maria Elena and the L.A Fed ran a campaign on behalf of “Tuesday” – Martes – and against an opponent – Arizona – that research told us Latinos were motivated to defeat.
- And Fabian? After he met with Maria Elena this summer, he decided to fund the “Martes Si, Arizona No!” television ad campaign. [Which not coincidentally included a pitch in favor of Prop. 25, the measure for a majority vote on the state budget -- Ed]
- Latinos accounted for 22% of the votes cast in California. None of us know how much bigger this trend will be. We do know that Pete Wilson’s TV ad got one thing right… they keep coming… to the polls.