Last weekend, the Spokane River wasn’t the only thing roaring in Spokane.
On June 20th and June 21st, Democrats from every corner of the state gathered at the Red Lion at the Park, on the banks of the Spokane River, for the 2014 Washington State Democrats State Convention.
What is the State Convention? Every two years, the Party hosts caucuses, where attendees elect delegates to go to the State Convention. At the State Convention, delegates pass a new party Platform, which is our statement of beliefs, and perform other Party business. They also hear from candidates, formally nominating them in years where there is a statewide race.
But perhaps even more importantly, the State Convention is an opportunity for Democrats to gather, meet and learn from each other, and get fired up for the election year ahead. This year, Democrats were united behind our mission to send Democrats to Congress and regain control of the State Senate majority in Olympia.
It was a beautiful weekend in Spokane, as attendees gathered on Thursday night for Drinking Liberally Spokane. State Senate candidate Rich Cowan showed up to meet Democrats and update them on his race against Michael Baumgartner in the 6th District. Michael Baumgartner is one of the most conservative voices in the State Senate, and supporting Rich was a big theme of the weekend. Convention attendees even made time to doorbell for Rich and spread the word about his campaign.
Rich Cowan with supporters at Drinking Liberally Spokane
Bob and Carole get ready to canvass for Rich
Official convention activities kicked off on Thursday morning with party building trainings and Caucus Meetings. Caucuses are independently managed groups for different constituencies within the Party, and they perform business like making endorsements and passing resolutions.
Digital media training
Jason Ritchie, running for Congress in the 8th District, gets the endorsement of the Asian Pacific American Caucus
To close out the day, attendees dressed in their finest for the Gala Banquet, with speakers Senator Maria Cantwell, King County Executive Dow Constantine, and keynote Governor Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania. Governor Rendell urged the crowd to fight for their principles and make investments in our future, particularly education. “There’s no reason we can’t do it,” Governor Rendell said. “We just need the will and willingness to invest in our own growth.”
Governor Ed Rendell
Senator Cantwell meets Young Democrats of Washington President Lynda Foster
On Saturday, attendees started the day with the State Leaders Breakfast, where they enjoyed some food before our General Session and heard from speakers who emphasized how critical races for State Legislature are this year. House Speaker Frank Chopp spoke about the situation in the House, and State Senator Andy Billig of the 3rd District in Spokane told the crowd about our fantastic candidates for State Senate. State Auditor Jim McIntire updated the crowd on the state’s financial standing and urged them to buy state bonds, while Bob Ferguson gave examples of how laws passed by the State Legislature affect his work as Attorney General.
Sen. Billig: “Are you with me to help turn out voters for the Primary and General Elections?”
Around 9 am, the Convention was called to order. The day started off with speeches from elected officials and candidates. Chair Jaxon Ravens asked every delegate to think about how they can impact the election, saying “If you’re in a safe blue district, your work is not done.” We heard from representatives from Initiative 1351, the inititiave to reduce class sizes, and Initiative 594, the initiative to require background checks on gun sales. Attorney General Bob Ferguson introduced Governor Jay Inslee, who referenced the Seahawks Marshawn Lynch in talking about what his administration has accomplished and the challenges ahead, “We’re all about the action boss. Democrats are all about the action this year!”
Governor Inslee: “Carbon pollution is enemy number one for the state of Washington. But let’s turn it into our number one opportunity.”
The Convention then heard from Washington’s first-term members of Congress, Suzan DelBene, Denny Heck, and Derek Kilmer, followed by our Democratic challengers in Republican districts, Jason Ritchie, Tony Sandoval, Estakio Beltran, and Joe Pakootas.
8th congressional district candidate Jason Ritchie
4th congressional district candidate Estakio Beltran
5th congressional district candidate Joe Pakootas
Senator Patty Murray ascended the stage after lunch and drew laughs when she said, “You know things are really bad when my 3-year old granddaughter says the word ‘sequestration’.” She talked about the issues driving her work in the Senate — college loan reform, equal pay for equal work, and creating a livable wage — while also focusing on state issues and urging attendees to fight to send Democrats to the State Senate. “We are one state — one party,” Murray said. “And together we’re going to deliver one big victory this November.” After her speech, Chair Jaxon Ravens gave Senator Murray a special State Democratic Party lapel pin.
Chair Ravens gives a gift to Senator Murray
With speeches done, the Convention got down to business. After vigorous debate, delegates approved a new Party Platform. The Platform is our statement of beliefs and guides all we do, from the candidates we support to the issues we champion. Delegates also approved dozens of resolutions. Resolutions take our Platform as guidance and give our positions on the news of the day.
After the Convention came to a close, it was time for celebration. Attendees headed to Riverside Park for the Spokane County Democrats Salmon Feed, where they enjoyed the beautiful day, ate some delicious food, and reflected on a successful weekend.
Thank you Spokane County Democrats for being great hosts
Chair Jaxon Ravens and 5th congressional district Joe Pakootas
Thank you everybody — Delegates, candidates, elected officials, guests — who came to the 2014 State Convention. We left the Convention feeling inspired and energized by your passion and dedication!