LaRouche backers win seats on panel

Four key supporters of Lyndon LaRouche are elected to positions on the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee

Tri-Valley Herald/March 4, 2004
By Matt Carter

Supporters of fringe presidential candidate Lyndon LaRouche won four seats on the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee on Election Day.

Some Democratic Party officials believe voters unwittingly elected LaRouche organizers to represent them with the party because the race isn't widely publicized.

"It was surprising people would vote for these candidates, when hardly anybody in the county voted for Lyndon LaRouche for president," said Robin Torello, chairwoman of the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee.

A total of 332 people in Alameda County voted for LaRouche to be the Democratic Party's presidential nominee.

By comparison, in the 18th Assembly District, LaRouche organizer Andrew Laverdiere received 18,859 votes for Democratic Central Committee -- more than twice as many as were cast for LaRouche in the entire state of California. LaRouche received 7,125 votes in California's Democratic presidential primary -- less than any candidate in a field of 10.

Under the state election code, candidates for party Central Committee can't submit statements outlining their qualifications for inclusion in the voter guide that's mailed to all registered voters. Many candidates don't campaign, and the outcome of the election can hinge on the order their names appear on the ballot, critics say.

The four LaRouche supporters elected to the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee -- including Sylvia Spaniolo and Summer Shields in the 16th Assembly District and Martin Garcia in the 14th Assembly District -- all received more votes in Alameda County than LaRouche garnered in all of California.

Party central committees help set policy and work to get candidates elected to office. The Alameda County Democratic Central Committee consists of 42 voting members. Up to 30 are elected by voters -- six from each of the five Assembly districts within the county. A dozen state and national officeholders also are voting members of the central committee.

Although four LaRouche supporters were elected to the central committee Tuesday, a fifth -- incumbent Judith Wierenga Nuerge -- failed in her bid for re-election in the 16th Assembly District. That gives LaRouche backers a net gain of three seats on the committee.

Torello said LaRouche supporters are only interested in furthering the political aspirations of Lyndon LaRouche, not supporting Democratic candidates and the party's causes.

"Their uniformity of position, I think, detracts from the diversity of opinion we like to see in candidates," Torello said. "They (LaRouche supporters) are not concerned with 'down-ticket' items, and won't necessarily work to get Democrats elected, as is their duty."

LaRouche organizer Ricardo Lopez, an unsuccessful candidate for the central committee in the 18th Assembly District, disagreed.

"What the LaRouche campaign is really about is bringing back the policies of Franklin Delano Roosevelt -- bringing back government regulation," Lopez said.

"Generally, we'll support any good Democrats," Lopez said, noting that LaRouche organizers fought the recall of Gov. Gray Davis. "That contradicts the idea that we're not going to support Democrats."

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