are california democrats asleep at the wheel?

Dem icon Burton shoo-in for state party leader

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Even as the Democratic Party rides an Obama-fueled wave of youth, enthusiasm and “change,” the Democrats of California look to be bucking the trend: They’re preparing to elect former state Senate President Pro Tem John Burton, 77, the iconic, battle-scarred veteran of state politics, as their party leader.

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John BurtonJohn Burton (left) and Mayor Gavin Newsom, who considers ...House Speaker Nancy Pelosi

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It’s a move not without controversy: The powerful former legislator, who first held the job of party chairman 36 years ago, is to his fans a colorful idol of progressive politics and to his critics the very symbol of old school, insider machine politics.

Burton, a grizzled survivor of California’s often-brutal mano a mano politics, termed out of the state Senate in 2004 and emerged earlier this year from political retirement to become the overwhelming favorite for the $133,639-a-year post as the state party head.

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