Cheryl Brown

Saxophonist Eddie M dances with Assemblywoman Cheryl Brown, D-San Bernardino, during a Sheila E. concert on the Capitol steps hosted by the Black Legislative Caucus on June 17, 2015. (Andrew Seng / The Sacramento Bee file)

Capitol Alert
By Alexei Koseff
January 30, 2016 3:23 PM

  • Assemblywoman receives 80 percent of pre-endorsement vote from local Democratic delegates
  • Brown faces controversial challenge from fellow Democrat after vote on climate change bill last session
  • In another intraparty fight, longtime Rep. Mike Honda narrowly fails to win pre-endorsement

Despite an unusual challenge from a fellow Democrat, Assemblywoman Cheryl Brown received enough support at a delegate vote in her San Bernardino-area district Saturday to secure the party’s endorsement at its upcoming convention.

Brown is one of several moderate Democrat lawmakers this year who attracted unexpected intraparty opponents in safely Democratic districts where re-election would otherwise be a mere formality. Speculation that the challengers are backed by environmentalists seeking revenge for the weakening of high-profile climate-change legislation last session blossomed into controversy over whether the incumbents were being targeted because of their race.

As an incumbent, Brown would normally have received the California Democratic Party’s endorsement automatically, but she faced objections from supporters of Eloise Gomez Reyes, an attorney who also ran for Congress in 2014. Yet at a pre-endorsement conference on Saturday, 80 percent of local delegates backed Brown, enough to advance to the consent calendar for the state party convention in San Jose at the end of February.

“We’ve been working hard to bring Democratic unity to the Inland Empire, and today’s confirmation of support validates this effort,” Brown said in a statement following the vote.

In another contentious intraparty battle, longtime Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, narrowly failed to win the pre-endorsement of his congressional district.

Seeking a ninth term this November, Honda once again faces intellectual property lawyer Ro Khanna, a favorite of Silicon Valley who lost to Honda by less than 5,000 votes in a costly and frequently hostile 2014 race. Honda is supported by the Democratic establishment and organized labor, but some allies have defected following the launch of an ongoing ethics investigation into whether Honda broke the law by using his congressional staff and other official resources to do campaign work.

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