Californians at DNC: Kamala Harris, Sikhs; But Where’s Gavin?

Democratic National Convention Committee Unveils Stage For DNC (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

High profile Californians are making a splash this week at the speaker’s podium at the Democratic National Convention. This morning on The California Report, KQED’s Rachael Myrow talked with San Francisco Chronicle political reporter Joe Garofoli.

They started off with a look at Attorney General Kamala Harris’ speech last night. Harris made the case for President Obama, while touting her own campaign to win accountability for banks in the housing crisis.

Harris linked the two nicely in her speech. “That’s the choice in this election,” she said. “It’s a choice between an America where opportunity is open to everyone, where everyone plays by the same set of rules or a philosophy that tilts the playing field to help the wealthiest few. A choice between holding Wall Street accountable or letting it write its own rules.”

You can watch the rest of her speech here (and read below for more on other California Democrats):

Harris is getting a lot of buzz as a rising star in the Democratic party. Myrow asked Garofoli for his take.

These conventions are a chance for a state politician to get the national spotlight, and that’s what Harris was doing here,” Garofoli explained. “To get a spot within an hour of Bill Clinton last night is a high-profile spot for her. I talked to her beforehand and here is someone who stared down the banks and helped to craft this billion dollar settlement, and she told me, ‘I’m kind of nervous.’ And so it is, they realize it’s a chance to go before the national media, to go before the grassroots activists who are in the party, and the people who are kind of the political nerds — the people who can talk up your candidacy or who can kill it if you think.

These conventions are a chance for a state politician to get the national spotlight, and that’s what Harris was doing here.

Citing delegates he spoke with, Garofoli believes Harris did, indeed, garner a positive review last night. He then talked with Myrow about the lack of presence from Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom.

“Four years ago he hosted a major party here for young folks,” Garofoli said. “It featured Shepard Fairey, who did the iconic Obama poster — the “Hope” poster — and it was probably the hot ticket four years ago. This year Newsom has been next to invisible. He appeared before the delegation, but he has not had a major role. … I think he was only here for a day or two.”

Garofoli reminded listeners that California is a reliable vote for Obama. He doesn’t have to campaign here — although he does come to California for fundraising. But even though the convention is not directed toward California, Garofoli has interesting stories from within the delegation.

“A couple of days ago, I ran into a pair of twin Sikh sisters from Stockton,” he said. “They’re 21 years old, and there are 26 Sikhs in the delegation here, which is way more than anyone else. And it’s a very interesting coming-out party for Sikhs. They feel that they wanted to be more politically active. They’re coming forward, especially in light of the recent shootings in Wisconsin, and they want to say, “We’re here, we’re visible.” They want to raise their political voice and political profile.”