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California Dems cancel convention events amid Gaza cease-fire demonstration

Updated November 19, 2023 - 2:11 pm

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Demonstrators demanding a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war prompted California Democratic Party officials to cancel evening events during their state convention on Saturday “for the safety and security of our delegates.”

California Democrats have been meeting in Sacramento this weekend to consider candidate endorsements ahead of the March primary. That includes the state’s competitive U.S. Senate race featuring four Democrats, including three sitting U.S. House members.

The convention was disrupted multiple times Saturday afternoon by demonstrators demanding a cease-fire in Gaza. Party officials had increased security for the weekend convention, requiring participants to be scanned and have their bags searched before entering the convention hall.

Following the afternoon session, a large crowd of demonstrators gathered at the hall. Sacramento police closed some roads near the convention center, but soon reopened them.

Saturday evening, shortly after voting ended for party endorsements, Democratic Party spokesperson Shery Yang said the evening’s events had been canceled.

“Due to circumstances beyond our control, and for the safety and security of our delegates and convention participants, we are canceling tonight’s caucus meetings, hospitality suites and VoteFest taking place at the convention center,” Yang said.

The cancellation overshadowed a strong showing by U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee, who was the top vote-getter among delegates. While no candidate had the 60 percent of votes required to earn the party’s formal endorsement, the results were a boost of confidence for Lee’s campaign as she finished ahead of rivals who have so far bested her in public polling.

U.S. Reps. Adam Schiff, Katie Porter and Lee, as well as former tech executive Lexi Reese attended Saturday’s convention hoping to secure enough support to earn the party’s official endorsement.

They are all vying for the seat now held by Sen. Laphonza Butler, who was appointed when longtime Sen. Dianne Feinstein died in September. Butler is not running for the seat and will step down when her term expires in early 2025.

Schiff is widely seen as the front-runner, leading the candidates in fundraising and boasting a pack of influential endorsements, including the coveted blessing of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Public polling, generally, has Porter second and Lee third among the Democrats, with a large chunk of voters still undecided.

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