Democrats take Davis’ downfall in stride

Daniella Williams

The room’s temperature was 72 degrees, but that had nothing to do with the chill in the air.

One minute after the polls closed 8 p.m. Tuesday, the projected results came in: Gray Davis out, Arnold Schwarzenegger in. At the news, one volunteer optimistically said, “It’s not over ’til the fat lady sings!” To this, another belted out a high note and laughed.

Members of the Kern County Democratic Central Committee and volunteers gathered at the Labor Union of Engineers, Local No. 12, in a furious effort to encourage Kern Democrats to vote no on the recall and get support for prospective governor Cruz Bustamante.

An official branch of the Democratic Party, the members called everyone on their phone list to drum up support against the recall. Thirty volunteers flowed in and out of the stark calling center from 7 a.m. until about 6:30 p.m. Little color filled the room, with only tongue-in-cheek signs like “My breasts are for nourishing children, not Ah-nold’s ego” to brighten the atmosphere.

The mood was a somber one, as most of the helpers toiled over the phones. The camp had no time to play. Bernice Bonillas, president of the Democratic Women of Kern, described the setup as a working campaign, not a party.

“This is a serious issue to us,” she said.

Despite the grim outlook at the beginning of the evening, many felt that they had to keep going.

“I believe strongly in what I’m doing,” said Sheila Roth, a volunteer. “I’m afraid California is going to be the loser if Davis is recalled.”

As the night came to a close, precinct walkers began to come in. Volunteer Mickey Sturdirant, a member of the NAACP, came back with complaints.

“They were just rude to us,” she said, looking startled. Sturdirant was not given prompt access to the results sheets, which is unusual. “It was the women that did that. I do this every year, and I’ve never had this problem.”

Even after most people had left, committee chairman Duane Moore and Bonillas were still making calls in the eleventh hour.

“It’s been a long two days,” smiled Moore, who had an early flight to catch Wednesday morning.

Despite the way the election turned out, committee secretary Candi Easter feels that the Republican Party may have given them a gift.

“If we don’t win, then everything can be blamed on Schwarzenegger,” she smiled. “I hope Arnold is the governor everyone expects him to be.”

Committee member Ann Cervantes volunteered at the East Hills polling center, and found the results there to be negative. However, Cervantes is proud of her efforts during the campaign.

“There’s nothing to be ashamed of. We fought a real good fight,” she said. No matter the reason, Cervantes is glad that this election, “got a lot of young people to come out and vote.”

For Easter, this defeat is just another beginning.

“We’re still working. We’re not going away,” she said. “In January we’ll be back, hitting the streets. We’re never done.

Down, but not out, everyone in the committee is now looking forward to beginning campaigning for the presidential primary.