By Ken StoneDon’t ask Democrats in San Diego’s 52nd Congressional District how to get to Carnegie Hall.
Instead, learn how they’ll get to their party’s national convention in Philadelphia: Sing the praises of Bernie Sanders (literally) and dress as the Statue of Liberty.
At least that’s what helped Jim Boydston of Bay Park and Josephine Piarulli Frodente of Clairemont become top male and female vote-getters for the presidential nominating powwow in late July.
Thousands of Dems across the state assembled for delegate-picking caucuses Sunday afternoon, including 16 meetings in the five San Diego County congressional districts.
Hillary Clinton backers and Sanders supporters held separate caucuses in all 53 districts to pick potential slates for the convention. San Diego County will send at least 32 delegates to the DNC — not counting former county party chairman Jess Durfee and the three Democratic members of Congress. They are unpledged “superdelegates.”
Nobody yet knows how many local Clinton backers and Sanders fans will claim a seat at the Wells Fargo Center. That’s up to the June 7 primary and a June 19 state Democratic meeting in Long Beach where delegates will be apportioned, boy-girl-boy-girl, by district and camp. (At-large delegates will also be chosen to meet demographic goals.)
But Boydston and Frodente might start packing their “Feel the Bern” bags.
That’s based on the assumption Sanders should win at least 30 percent of the vote in Rep. Scott Peters’ district ranging from Poway on the north to coastal San Diego down to the southern end of the Silver Strand.
Boydston, 55, a piano technician and San Diego Opera tenor for two decades, led 150 people at the machinists union hall in Kearny Mesa in the national anthem and later joined with four others to perform “We’re on a Journey With Bernie.“
How did he manage to win 111 votes on 720 ballots in a field of 32 men?
“I would like to think it had to do with charisma,” he said with a smile. “I’m not afraid to go up to talk to people.”
In fact, Boydston was among the first local activists to stump for Sanders, helping at many events and organizing the downtown march that preceded the senator’s March 22 rally at the San Diego Convention Center. (He said he knew he couldn’t attend the nighttime event so led the march instead.)
Boydston also boasted that ever since the Democratic Socialist announced for president a year ago, “I’ve become a Bernie Sanders social media whore.”
Frodente, a depositions stenographer in her 50s, was shocked at taking first among 30 women, having expected about a dozen votes. She thought she’d be swamped by a slate of nurses union candidates.
She won 147 votes — partly thanks to dressing as the Statue of Liberty (what she wears to monthly naturalization ceremonies where she registers new citizens as voters) but mainly for her history as a Bernie booster — active on the local Sanders community Facebook page and as secretary of the San Diego Progressive Democratic Club.
“I’m excited about it,” she said amid congratulatory hugs. “I’m thrilled.”
The mother of two hopes to get financial help to attend the July 25-28 convention, but she’s bound and determined: “I’ll walk there if I have to.”
“Bernie or bust” was a theme of many delegate speeches, in fact. About two dozen of the 62 candidates took turns addressing a shrinking audience. (Most people arrived at the union hall, voted and left before the speeches.)
When Frodente took her 30-second turn, she said she was “carrying a torch for Bernie” and “no way I’m voting for anyone but Bernie.”
Heidi Salerno of Point Loma, a 49-year-old deputy state attorney general, won an alternate spot (with 68 votes), and vowed to use her prosecutor skills to negotiate with superdelegates to back Sanders instead of Clinton.
Timekeeper Susan Peinado, president of the Point Loma Democratic Club, signaled for Salerno to stop. A man in the audience shouted: “You killed it, Heidi!”
Also chosen as potential Philly delegates from the 52nd District were Erin McLeod and Dahlia Tayag, two women on the four-member #Nurses4BeRNie slate promoted by flyers handed to caucus-goers.
Joining Boydston as top male vote-getters were California Nurses Association rep Damian Tryon and *Paul Sasso, owner of the “Bern Machine” — a Tesla wrapped in a ‘Bernie’ skin to promote Sanders.
(The 52nd District will send three male and four female delegates — among the 346 picked statewide Sunday in a 586-member delegation, including 40 alternates.)
John Mattes, part of the Sanders campaign here from the beginning, didn’t vie to be a delegate but said he would work for the senator’s agenda and get like-minded Democrats elected to office in San Diego County.
“My purpose is to bring people into the process,” Mattes said after 52nd District results were announced — and penned on sex-segregated sheets.
His main concern about the Philadelphia convention: “Will it be an open process?” He wants Sanders’ ideas influencing the party platform.
Asked to predict how California Democrats would vote June 7, he said: “53 percent for Bernie” and 47 or 48 percent for Clinton.
“That’s obtainable for us,” he said.
*Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly named another man as a potential delegate.
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