Adulation rained down on California Democratic Party chairman John Burton during a Monday event launching a new party headquarters bearing Burtons name. An impressive roster of statewide elected officials, members of the Legislature and of Congress converged at S and Ninth streets in Sacramento for the dedication. Formerly a Wishing Well party store, the building has since has transformed into a sparkling new LEED-certified structure boasting solar panels and charging stations for electrical vehicles.
But the building itself took a backseat on Monday to Burton, a longtime figure in Democratic politics who most recently led the Democratic caucus in the state Senate before becoming head of the state party in 2009. Gov. Jerry Brown and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, were among those recounting Burtons accomplishments before a crowd stocked with elected officials.
Ive seen the Democratic party for all of my life, and never has it had such a following, a solidity of organization or a leader in John Burton, Brown said.
Hes mastered inner discord, Brown added of the notoriously foul-mouthed Burton, and therefore can master the outer discord.
Among the donors helping to get the project off the ground was environmental activist and billionaire Tom Steyer, who contributed an undisclosed amount to the cause. The building was purchased for $830,000 and required just over $2 million worth of work, according to party spokesman Tenoch Flores.
It took a lot of money to get it to where it is now, Flores said. It was essentially a renovation project.
The party had formerly been paying $14,000 a month in rent for a space at 21st and N streets, Flores said. Speakers at the event suggested the project could pay for itself, touting it as a space to host party fundraisers.