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Candidate Essay: Proven Leadership in Challenging Times

Editor’s note: Between now and April 21, more than 3,000 delegates to the California Democratic Party will have the chance to vote by mail on their party’s chair for the next four years. This is the candidate essay of incumbent Chair Rusty Hicks. The essay by his opponent, Delaine Eastin, can be read here.

I’m Rusty Hicks — a labor leader, organizer and a Democrat. I was elected in June 2019 to serve as Chair of the California Democratic Party. In my short tenure, the Party has led and delivered on the biggest issues confronting Democrats, our State, and our Nation.

Despite the many challenges we have faced, we have managed to uplift and empower our grassroots leaders across our State to improve the lives of 40 million Californians. This includes:

  1. Fueling our grassroots campaigns. In 2020, we raised more than $2 million in small-dollar donor contributions – more than 8 times the amount raised in previous cycles. These contributions are essential to maximizing the Party’s direct support to our endorsed candidates and causes. We also invested in our Party’s internal and external fundraising infrastructure to connect directly with even more grassroots donors in the coming months and years.

  2. Engaging, educating & empowering Democrats in California and across the nation. This last cycle our Party executed a multi-million dollar statewide organizing campaign in partnership with County Committees, Democratic Clubs, grassroots organizations and allies. The campaign recruited and trained more than 57,000 volunteers to make phone calls, send text messages, and mail postcards to millions of voters in the battleground districts of California and in swing states across the country. Our Party recruited over 450 volunteers to protect the integrity of elections by educating voters, watching the polls and answering the voter protection hotline when complaints were filed.

  3. Embracing our Party’s diversity. Led by our Party’s first Latina Executive Director, our CADEM team is 68% women, 68% people of color, and 58% are under the age of 35. In addition, our Standing Committees are 54% women, 60% delegates of color, 21% are members of the LGBTQ+ community, 24% are under the age of 35, and 16% are delegates with a disability. We have also expanded access to more young Democrats and undocumented Californians to engage in our Party’s work.

  4. An inclusive, respectful, and safe space for all. We have taken the steps to build a Party dedicated to our shared values of respect and dignity. Our new Code of Conduct – one of the first of its kind and strongest in the nation – includes an Independent Ombudsperson and a comprehensive system to ensure our Party continues to be an inclusive, respectful, and a safe space for all.

  5. Building our Democratic Bench. In 2020, the Party’s coordinated campaign supported local candidates to build our local bench and those in tight races get over the finish line. This included Ventura County Supervisor Carmen Ramirez, and in 2021, we worked with the Orange County Democrats to help elect Katrina Foley – the first Democratic woman ever elected to the Orange County Board of Supervisors.

  6. Standing strong against the Republican Recall of Governor Newsom. The Party unequivocally opposes the recall of Governor Newsom and stands prepared to defeat this cynical ploy to disrupt California’s progress. The Party has already made an initial $250,000 donation – matching that of the National Republican Party – to defeat the Republican recall. CADEM has already mobilized our statewide infrastructure and grassroots leadership to engage in this important effort.

We have begun to write a new chapter in our Party’s history by revitalizing our grassroots leadership and investing in our infrastructure to organize in every region across California. Together, we can continue to build upon this progress, elect even more Democrats, and make real change to improve the lives of all Californians.

I am ready to get to work.

Join me.

Rusty Hicks

Chair of the California Democratic Party

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