Members of the activist group Indivisible CA-39 gathered Tuesday night at Fullerton Community Center to discuss the possibility of endorsing a candidate for the California congressional primary, which will take place June 5.
The group was joined by Democratic candidates for California’s 39th District: Phil Janowicz, Sam Jammal, Gil Cisneros and Andy Thorburn. Jay Chen’s campaign manager was also present.
All candidates in attendance spoke and agreed that the organization should not endorse a candidate.
This stance was reflected when the group took a preliminary vote and found that a majority of the members were in favor of not endorsing a candidate for the primary election, though the official vote was tabled for another day.
Janowicz spoke as a member and asked everyone present to consider what endorsing a candidate could possibly do to the organization.
“We’ve been fighting so hard outside of (Ed) Royce’s office. We’ve been fighting so hard at Brea City Council. We’ve been doing this for so long together to resist the Trump agenda. An endorsement here would just separate us,” Janowicz said.
Indivisible considered Royce’s announcement to retire a victory after holding many protests outside his office. After 26 years of Republican control his retirement gives the Democrats opportunity to win the incumbent’s vacated seat.
— Indivisible Guide (@IndivisibleTeam) January 8, 2018
Cisneros, who said he has been coming to Indivisible meetings since May 2017, wanted the organization to focus on their victory with Royce’s retirement.
Though some members are concerned there is an oversaturation of Democratic candidates, Cisneros believes their focus should remain on electing a Democrat past the primary and into the general election on Nov. 6.
“There’s still three Republican candidates we can go after, attack and continue to bring them down. That’s where Indivisible CA-39 can best put their resources,” Cisneros said.
Although he was not at the meeting, Chen released a statement regarding the possibility of endorsement.
“These activists have been at the forefront of demanding change in this district and they want the best person to represent them in Congress,” Chen said in an email. “What is most important is that all members continue to stay involved, stay engaged, and stay active.”
Jammal, who also commended Indivisible CA-39 for its role in Royce’s retirement, said he worries that any division in the organization could overshadow the work they’ve done.
— IndivisibleCA39 (@IndivisibleCA39) January 15, 2018
Wanting to focus on registering voters, Thorburn also agreed Indivisible CA-39 should not endorse a candidate.
“We have candidates, we need the voters,” Thorburn said.
Vincent Hennerty, a member of Indivisible, understands why there’s a concern of friction and tension due to an endorsement. However, he abstained from the preliminary vote because he sees valid points on both sides.
“This is an open primary, it’s a jungle. There’s a good possibility of there being two Republicans,” Hennerty said. “I’m hoping people drop out for the greater good, because if they’re there and they truly believe in flipping this district, they can put their pride away and put all of their resources and support into whoever has the best ability.”