The Contra Costa Times recently ran an article about California Democratic leaders putting pressure on Democrats who are supporting the Voters First Initiative to toe the party line.
There has been an “attempt to bring everybody into line” now that the state party has come out against the redistricting measure, said Kathay Feng, the measure’s main author and director of California Common Cause. The initiative qualified for the November ballot last week.
“There’s tremendous pressure on any person who’s intimated they’ll come out in support of the measure, to back away from that,” Feng said. “And there’s been a tremendous amount of lobbying, going after people who’ve already taken a position to try and silence them.”
She cited the case of John Smith, a Southern California regional director for the state party who had been vocal in his support of the measure until the party’s executive board voted overwhelmingly last week to oppose it. Smith’s voice, among others, Feng said, has been important in convincing voters that the ballot measure is not a Republican power grab, as Democratic Party leaders have charged.
“He was approached before and after the vote and encouraged to fall in line with (the party),” Feng said. “He feels very uncomfortable about speaking up about it now. In the last few days, he’s been noticeably reluctant to assert his position. I can’t say what’s been said, but for him to feel he has to slink around about what he feels passionately about is unfortunate.”