When former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson took to the stage, he said that, along with “that guy in the kitchen,” he was the only Democrat at the heavily conservative-populated Bakersfield Business Conference.
So The Californian went hunting to find those Bakersfield Business Conference black sheep – liberals.
For the most part, conference attendees lean right, but Richardson was right about one thing – some of the volunteers and folks working concession booths, who weren’t paying the more than $300 ticket price to attend, were Democrats.
“Let’s just say I do a lot of theater,” said Kookie Pou, who would only provide his stage name to The Californian. Pou added that he took the job because car payments and veterinarian bills are piling up, but that he would probably be more excited to work the event if it were lousing with liberals.
Julie Gibson, a registered Democrat volunteering Saturday, was sporting an Emilio Huerta for Congress and Hillary Clinton for President pin. The conference, she said, is not all Republican or Democrat, just a good place to be informed.
“Although it is dominated by Republicans,” Gibson whispered, breaking from her political correctness.
One place Republicans weren’t dominating was at former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s remarks in the political tent.
That’s where Alyssa Galloway, a Bakersfield-born lobbyist who moved away to the Bay Area after high school with her husband, Casey Sparks, waited outside to take photos with the Democratic figurehead.
Galloway grew up in a Republican household, but had attended the event with family growing up.
“I’ve been to Bakersfield about a dozen times, and it takes a while to learn the culture,” Sparks said before his wife cut him off.
“Say positive things, Casey,” she chastised him before they bickered for a moment. Galloway didn’t want her parents reading Sparks putting down political leaders they admire.
He hemmed and hawed, then did the smart thing, falling in line with his wife.
As the Politichicks debated, Bakersfield City School District Board Trustee Pam Baugher was sporting a Hillary Clinton campaign button — two of them, actually. And she was using a Hillary lawn sign as a sunshade.
“There’s no doubt I’m a minority here. Somebody has to stand up for what’s right,” Baugher said, adding that a conference volunteer told her she wished she could wear the same button, but didn’t want to appear partisan.
Baugher’s not a registered Democrat – in fact, she was a registered Republican for most of her life up until May. What made her jump ship?
“Trump,” Baugher said. “Trump is disgusting. It’s time for a good woman.”
She describes herself these days as a political moderate, voting for people, not parties. She groused at the Politichicks rhetoric in the tent.
“These two have drunk the Kool-Aid,” Baugher said as one of the Politichicks talked about how Clinton would bring in “refugee after refugee.”
Baugher, who was at the conference with her liberal daughter and her friend, said they both had abandoned her during that presentation.
“They couldn’t stand it,” Baugher said.