John Burton speaks to Roseville Democrats

Chair of California Democratic Party talks about upcoming elections
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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California Democratic Party Chair John Burton spoke in front of a packed house at Sun City Roseville Tuesday, remarking several times on the large size of the crowd.

He said the audience of about 200 people was one of the biggest he’s spoken to outside of state conventions. Linda Hall of the Placer County Democratic Party Central Committee offered this as evidence that Placer County and Roseville aren’t a “lost cause” despite their reputation as a land of conservatives.

“We’ve made inroads, and we need to make more,” Hall said.

During his hour-long engagement, Burton spoke about the need for California’s Democrats to campaign for President Barack Obama.

“We’ve got to work hard,” Burton said. “The better the president does, the more democrats we’re going to register, the better it’s going to be.”

There was lots of laughter throughout the event, as Burton — known for his candid style and use of profanity — poked fun at Republican politicians, including state Sen. Tom McClintock and presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum.

“I have no idea what the Republicans are going to nominate,” Burton said. “I didn’t say ‘who,’ I said ‘what.’”

He addressed two items on the June ballot, urging support of both the $1 cigarette tax to fund cancer research and a change to term limits.

He also supports Gov. Jerry Brown’s November ballot proposal to temporarily hike sales tax by a half-cent and increase the income tax for individuals who earn an annual income of at least $250,000 as a way to “stop the bleeding.”

Burton voiced opposition to a political contributions initiative on the November ballot, which he said is proposed by conservatives to penalize unions. The measure would prohibit labor organizations and corporations who collect dues from using this money for political purposes.

“This is aimed at labor organizations and working people and it’s also aimed at the Democratic Party, because 35 percent of the money we get is from labor organizations,” Burton said.

During the question-and-answer portion, Roseville resident Michael Leibowitz asked Burton whether the recent increase in the price of oil is a political maneuver to lessen Americans’ support for the president.

“Is there any possibility the rising gas price is part of an oil company campaign (against Obama)?” Leibowitz said.

Burton said he didn’t doubt that possibility.

“Demand is down, supplies are up, there’s a surplus,” he said. “(Oil companies) are basically thieves. I believe that in my heart of hearts.”

Sena Christian can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at SenaC_RsvPT.